Microsoft has announced new initiatives to accelerate the growth of 10,000 African businesses and fast-track investment in Africa’s startup ecosystem over the next five years, as part of its newly established Africa Transformation Office (ATO).
Through the ATO, Microsoft’s recently launched worldwide Founders Hub will now be available to African companies. The Founders Portal is a self-service hub that connects startups to mentors, skilling courses, Microsoft Azure and GitHub, as well as go-to-market and business help.
Microsoft is also forming new collaborations with accelerators and incubators across Africa, including Grindstone, Greenhouse, FlapMax, and Seedstars, to provide access to markets, technical skills, and investment options for industry-based entrepreneurs.
These agreements will give African businesses access to training programs, markets, including chances to co-sell with Microsoft, and technology, as well as help from Microsoft’s engineering and product teams for co-innovation.
Microsoft is forming industry alliances and partnerships with venture capital investors to help African entrepreneurs scale quickly utilizing investment funds. These alliances and collaborations will provide access to $500 million in potential funding for African startups. This money will come from a network of venture capitalists who will contribute a portion of their funds to Microsoft-affiliated firms.
Africa’s startup scene is exploding.
The robust African startup sector, according to Microsoft, is ideally positioned to become a cornerstone of the continent’s digital economy, encouraging local innovation by providing meaningful answers to social concerns.
“Investments in Africa’s startup ecosystem are rapidly increasing. “There are more than 640 active tech centers across Africa, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, driving innovation and creating jobs, particularly among the youth,” says Wael Elkabbany, Managing Director, Microsoft Africa Transformation Office.
“However,” Elkabbany reminds out, “the African startup market now accounts for less than 1% of total global investments.” This must be changed.”
Microsoft’s efforts to massively grow its effect would be guided by an overarching strategy with three primary emphasis areas, according to him.
The Founders Hub Microsoft’s corporate and enterprise customers are available to sell to startups through the Founders Hub. Microsoft will also assist startups with geo-expansion efforts, which allow them to expand their business by selling in other nations or areas.
“Through the Founders Hub, Microsoft can connect with accelerators, incubators, and tech hotspots all around the continent.” “Our relationships with prominent African accelerators help growth-stage entrepreneurs speed their company development and market expansion objectives,” says Gerald Maithya, Microsoft Africa Transformation Office’s Startups Lead.
Collaborations with key startups
Microsoft will collaborate with B2B-focused startups, scaleups, “soonicorns” (companies with the potential to become unicorns), and unicorns from a variety of top African industries, as well as those focused on SMEs.
“We recognize that every business is different and that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all collaboration model.” This is why, according to Maithya, 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 Africa’s overall economic growth.
The major purpose of these collaborations will be to provide assistance in one or more of the areas below:
- Access to technology: This includes everything from cloud credits to the developer and productivity tools like GitHub, as well as technical support and enablement from Microsoft’s traditional partner network. Contact with Microsoft’s engineering and product teams for the aim of co-innovation is also included.
- Access to markets: This includes the ability to co-sell with Microsoft through the SME Marketplace, as well as the ability to collaborate with Microsoft on expansion projects, as well as access to relevant enterprise and government partners. Through geographical growth into new regions and co-selling opportunities, Microsoft will enable entrepreneurs to scale to new heights.
Access to funds: Microsoft’s venture capital partnerships will offer qualifying entrepreneurs access to financing.
- Access to skilling enablement: Microsoft will provide a smooth, self-contained package of high-quality skilling content for access to skilling enablement. Startups will be able to access multiple technical, self-paced training, workshops, instructor-led courses, and virtual training via a single interface. This platform will also provide growth learning programs to help startups achieve greater success. Microsoft will strive to cooperate with government startup programs, regional ecosystems of startups networks and groups, and accelerators as part of its engagement model to reach as many companies as possible.
Collaborations with venture capitalists
Microsoft is forming collaborations with venture capitalists interested in one or more African regions, mainly those with a global reach and regional bases.
“Our goal in forming these venture capital relationships is to expand the network of prospective collaborations between Microsoft, venture capital investors, and startups, hence boosting the money accessible to eligible businesses,” Maithya stated.
“There is great potential for Africa to become a vibrant hub of digital innovation on the global startup landscape,” Elkabbany says. Our goal is to witness a surge of indigenous innovation that will benefit not only Africa’s digital economy, but also the rest of the world.”