Technology giant, Microsoft, has announced new initiatives to accelerate the growth of 10,000 African start-ups and fast-track investment in the continent’s start-up ecosystem over the next five years.
It is also establishing industry alliances and partnerships with venture capital investors that will facilitate access to US$500 million in potential funding for African startups.
The company is making the opportunities available on its recently launched Founders Hub on the Africa Transformation Office (ATO), a self-service hub that provides start-ups with a wide range of resources.
In a press statement copied to the Daily Graphic, the company said the services on the ATO included access to mentors, skilling content, tools such as Microsoft Azure and GitHub and go-to-market and business support.
“Microsoft is also creating new partnerships with accelerators and incubators across Africa, including Grindstone, Greenhouse, FlapMax and Seedstars, to provide industry based start-ups with access to markets, technical skills and funding opportunities. These partnerships will provide Africa start-ups with access to skilling programmes, access to markets, including opportunities to co-sell with Microsoft, and access to technology, with support from Microsoft’s engineering and product teams for co-innovation opportunities,” the statement said.
It explained that to enable start-ups to rapidly scale up, using investment funding, Microsoft was establishing industry alliances and partnerships that would facilitate access to US$500 million in potential funding for African startups.
“This funding will come from a network of venture capital investors, who will dedicate a portion of their financial support to startups in the Microsoft network. Microsoft has already established partnerships with several key venture capital investors, including Banque Misr, Global Venture Capital and Get Funded Africa, and the intention is to grow this network of venture capital investors in the next five years to increase funding and enable them to scale up and drive economic growth,” it added.
It noted that Africa’s start-up market is booming and Microsoft believed that the vibrant African start-up market was well placed to become a cornerstone of the continent’s digital economy, supporting local innovation through relevant solutions to societal challenges.
“Investments into Africa’s start-up ecosystem are growing at an exciting pace. 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,” the Managing Director of Microsoft ATO, Mr Wael Elkabbany, said.
Mr Elkabbany, however, pointed out that the African startup market currently represented less than one per cent of total investments worldwide, noting that that needed to change.
He said Microsoft’s was aiming to dramatically scale its impact to be driven by an overarching strategy with three key focus areas.
About Founders Hub
The statement explained that the Founders Hub included opportunities for start-ups to sell to Microsoft’s corporate and enterprise customers.
It said Microsoft would also support start-ups in geo-expansion activities, where start-ups could scale up by selling in new countries or regions.
The Startups Lead at Microsoft ATO, Mr Gerald Maithya, said the Founders Hub allowed Microsoft to engage with accelerators, incubators and tech hubs across the continent.
“Our partnerships with key African accelerators provide crucial support to accelerate growth-stage start-ups with their business development and market expansion plans,” he added.