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Microsoft is expanding its venture partnership programme into Africa though its 4Afrika initiative, starting with Kenya. “The Ventures partnership programme, which was introduced in June 2013, is designed to bring tools, technology and training to startups through partnerships with global accelerators,” says the software giant.
According to Microsoft, its Ventures division was created to give startups a leg-up and Kenya is quickly being recognised as an innovation hub, particularly in the mobility space. It’s been reported that there are 74 mobile phones for every 100 Kenyans and, of those who access the internet, 99% do it via a mobile device.
“We want to remove as many barriers as we can to enabling a startup to thrive. The programme is simple: those who are interested can apply to an immersive three-six month
accelerator program,” says Microsoft. “The only requirements are a full-time founding team and less than US$1-million raised. Qualifying companies will have access to mentors, technical and design experts, development tools and key resources.”
For the venture into Kenya, Microsoft is joining forces with 88mph — an accelerator with a strong track record in helping local entrepreneurs. Since the accelerator’s launch in 2011, 88mph has graduated 32 startups. Together, Microsoft and 88mph will provide startups with mentorship, technology guidance, seed funding and joint selling opportunities.
According to the tech, it wants to see a thriving African startup ecosystem that will contribute to Africa’s economic development and competitiveness on a global scale.
“We feel strongly that by partnering with 88mph we are helping to pave the way to a better, stronger future,” says Microsoft.
The recently launched 4Afrika Initiative works along the same premise as a vehicle through which Microsoft will actively engage in Africa’s economic development to improve its global competitiveness while ingraining Microsoft products and services into upcoming African businesses.