Microsoft announces initiative to support 10,000 African startups over the next 5 years

Microsoft has announced new initiatives intended to accelerate the growth of 10,000 African start-ups and fast-track investment in Africa’s start-up ecosystem over the next five years. Through Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub, the company wants to help remove traditional barriers founders face when building a company to enable them to have wide access to free technology, coaching, and support they need to hit their next milestone. The Founders Hub, a self-service hub will also provide start-ups with a wide range of resources and tools like Microsoft Azure and GitHub, and go-to-market and business support.

“Investments into Africa’s startup ecosystem are growing at an exciting pace. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, there are more than 640 active technology hubs across Africa, accelerating innovation and creating employment, particularly among the youth,” said Microsoft Africa Transformation Office MD Wael Elkabbany.

“However, currently, the African startup market represents less than 1% of total investments worldwide. This needs to change.”

Microsoft is 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 African start-ups with access to skilling programs, 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.

Microsoft is establishing industry alliances and partnerships with venture capital investors that will facilitate access to $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,” he continued.

The Founders Hub includes opportunities for startups to sell to Microsoft’s corporate and enterprise customers and Microsoft will also support startups in geo-expansion activities, where startups can scale up by selling in new countries or regions.

“The Founders Hub allows Microsoft to engage with accelerators, incubators and technology hubs across the continent. Our partnerships with key African accelerators provide crucial support to accelerate growth-stage startups with their business development and market expansion plans,” added Microsoft Africa Transformation Office startups lead Gerald Maithya.

Microsoft will partner with business-to-business-focused startups, scaleups, “soonicorns”, which are businesses with the potential to become unicorns, and unicorns across a range of leading African industries, and those concentrated on working with small and medium-sized enterprises.

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

“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 the local invention that will contribute positively, not just to Africa’s digital economy, but to global society,” Elkabbany concluded.

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