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There is no denying that Africa, and East Africa in particular, is currently buzzing with entrepreneurial activity. Adding to the buzz, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has signed a collaborative agreement with Microsoft East Africa Limited to grow entrepreneurship in the region.
The agreement sees Microsoft providing training and mentorship services to Ethiopia’s UNDP supported Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP) for 200 000 entrepreneurs. These services fall under Microsoft’s flagship entrepreneurship programme in Africa, the 4Afrika Initiative.
The initiative looks at helping African entrepreneurs accelerate their economic development as well as improve the continent’s global competitiveness.
“Microsoft brings this vision, as well as its vast experience in providing ICT skills, education and curriculum for developing countries, to the deal,” says the initiative.
This agreement makes perfect sense for the division, which launched a similar programme in Morocco recently to help foster female entrepreneurs in the country.
“Entrepreneurs hold the key in driving innovation and long term competitiveness in the African economy. Microsoft’s partnership with UNDP to support 200 000 entrepreneurs in Ethiopia is the first step in driving this growth,” says Amrote Abdella, Director Startup Engagement & Partnerships Africa Initiatives at Microsoft.
Here is what the agreement with the UN in the Ethopia entails for senior Microsoft executive:
- Provide support, including mentoring entrepreneurs on strategy and marketing
- Support the best innovators and nominate them for the 4Afrika Innovation Grant Award
- Provide access to Microsoft BizSpark, a global program that provides free software to startup entrepreneurs
- In future, help entrepreneurs exchange products and service and gain global recognition through the Microsoft Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) portal
The partnership also provides opportunity for micro and small businesses as well as aspiring entrepreneurs to build their business through a canvas called “Build Your Own Business”.
This is UNDP Ethiopia’s first private sector partnership.
“The goods and services offered by Microsoft provides a unique opportunity to unleash the potential of young and budding entrepreneurs. This will help them to play a vital role in the economic growth and transformational development of Ethiopia,” said UNDP’s Resident Representative, Eugene Owusu.
This is not the first partnership between the two organisations. According to a release by Microsoft, both organsisation have successfully partnered in the past in numerous countries to promote sustainable development, eradication of poverty, advancement of women, good governance and the rule of law. In this new partnership targeted at Ethiopia, the collaboration will focus on addressing some of the principal challenges faced in building resilient nations, by empowering citizens and preparing them to join a dynamic and innovative 21st century workforce.
“It is critical to develop the capacity, knowledge and skills of local entrepreneurs who will stimulate local economies. We look forward to working with the UNDP in taking innovative business models to scale,” says Eric Odipo, Country Manager of Microsoft East and Southern Africa.