Microsoft has commenced the process of expanding its partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB) to support youth entrepreneurs on the continent.
The partnership forms part of the bank’s Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Banks (YEIB) Initiative, a unique value proposition set up by the African Development Bank that anchors and integrates efforts to develop entrepreneurship ecosystems in Africa.
It seeks to bring together all relevant financial and non-financial parties and partners to play their respective roles in supporting youth entrepreneurs through mentorship, coaching, knowledge and experience sharing and more.
The partnership also forms an important part of Microsoft African Transformation Office’s ATO’s mission to empower 10 million Small and Medium Enterprise SMEs through access to skilling initiatives and investments and to generate the capacity needed to scale and provide digital skills to 30 million Africans.
Under the partnership, Microsoft will work with the bank to develop youth entrepreneurship ecosystems, creating jobs and dramatically scaling impact in Africa through digital inclusion.
The partnership seeks to support the establishment of national-level institutions through a public-private collaboration model to scale up technical and financial support for youth entrepreneurs and build their capacity.
Under the partnership, Microsoft is expected to leverage its partner ecosystem which covers 54 countries across the continent to act on key technology solutions across four key areas including skilling, connectivity, small-to-medium enterprise (SME) digitisation and hardware.
In the area of skills, the partnership seeks to connect youth to economic opportunity and employability skills, the partnership will provide them with career pathway and learning content.
This includes the use of existing e-learning platforms such as coding for employment.
The initiative also aims to build the capacity of enterprise services organisations benefitting youth through the training of trainers.
In the area of connectivity, the partnership seeks to leverage successful connectivity solutions such as Microsoft Airband, the partnership will develop effective infrastructure models to help bridge the digital divide.
At the same time, it will support other innovative solutions on the market either through direct or indirect investment.
The partnership also aims to improve (SME) digital literacy and business skills by creating access to curated learning content, certifications, business solutions, business skills and specialised digital skills. This will be driven in partnership with LinkedIn and through skilling programmes such as MS Learn and the Cloud Academy.
SME access to bundled hardware solutions will be created by Microsoft and its partners.
SMEs will also be able to purchase Microsoft technology at discounted prices.
The General Manager of Microsoft Africa Regional Cluster Wael Elkabbany, explained that his outfit believed much could be done to help foster youth entrepreneurship by collaborating with the African Development Bank, driving greater economic inclusion for this key segment of the population, and ultimately building a more prosperous society.
The African Development Bank Vice-President for Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialisation, Solomon Quaynor, said the strengthening of the partnership with Microsoft on the YEIB was an important development in the journey towards harnessing Africa’s demographic dividend and facilitating the creation of millions of jobs for young Africans by 2025.
The Strategic Partnerships Lead, Microsoft ATO, Angela Kyerematen-Jimoh, said “We are excited about the potential of this collaboration to magnify the work Microsoft is doing around digital inclusion in Africa.”