Microsoft targets 10,000 African startups in accelerator plan

Global tech giant Microsoft has launched an initiative aimed at accelerating the growth of 10,000 African start-ups and boosting investment on the continent’s enterprise scene over the next five years.

Founders Hub, which Microsoft created recently to serve the world, will now be available to African start-ups through Africa Transformation Office (ATO). The platform provides young enterprises with variety of resources, including tools such as Microsoft Azure and GitHub as well as access to mentors and skilling content.

Microsoft says it will partner with accelerators and incubators across Africa, including Grindstone, Greenhouse, FlapMax and Seedstars to link start-ups with markets, technical skills, and funding opportunities.

These partnerships will also connect young enterprises with opportunities to co-sell with Microsoft.

“Our goal in establishing these partnerships with venture capital investors is to extend the network of potential partnerships between Microsoft, venture capital investors and startups, thereby increasing the funding made available to eligible startups,” said ATO startups lead Gerald Maithya.

The programme will also see startups access relevant technology, with support from Microsoft’s engineering and product teams for co-innovation opportunities.

“We understand that each startup is unique and exists beyond the limitations of a one-size-fits-all partnership model,” said Mr Maithya.

“This is why Microsoft will tailor each partnership to the needs of individual startups, providing support and access – whether to technology, markets and co-sell opportunities, funding or digital skills – to enable them to grow and contribute to the wider economic growth of Africa.”

Microsoft is also betting on industry alliances and partnerships with venture capital investors in a bid to raise $500 million in funding.

The tech conglomerate has already inked deals with a number of key venture capital investors, among them Banque Misr, Global Venture Capital and Get Funded Africa.

Microsoft also aims to bring on board more venture capital investors in the next five years to increase funding for SMEs to fuel their growth and transform them into key economic pillars.

Microsoft sees African startup market is growing to be the engine of the continent’s digital economy, supporting local innovation through relevant solutions to societal challenges.

 “Investments into Africa’s startup ecosystem are growing at an exciting pace,” said Microsoft Africa Managing Director, Wael Elkabbany, noting that according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), there are more than 640 active tech hubs across Africa, accelerating innovation and creating employment, particularly among the youth.

“There is huge potential for Africa to become a thriving hub of digital innovation on the global startup landscape. Our ambition is to see an explosion of local inventions that will contribute positively not just to Africa’s digital economy, but to global society,” added Mr Elkabbany.

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