Microsoft awards 7 more African startups with Innovation Grants

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Microsoft 4Afrika has announced the second round of startups that will have access to the tech giant’s Innovation’s Grant, the latest in a series of initiatives we’ve seen this year as it looks to fast-track African innovation.

The grant will help each startup achieve their unique needs whether that be skills, funds or networking. Fernando de Sousa, General Manager of Africa Initiatives at Microsoft notes how critical it is to support Africa’s future industry leaders:

“The world is looking for the next growth pole and Africa is positioned to be exactly that. As investors assess industries and sectors to fund, there is a keen interest in exploring the future multinational companies that will come out of Africa. These are the startups and SMEs of today, which we aim to help grow to their full potential through smart financing.”

Apart from financial support, the startups will also have access to both professional and technical support. “It is critical to provide individualised support over and above funding. All startups have different needs, speeds at which they scale and unique market challenges that require tailored, individualised support,” adds Fernando de Sousa.

The 4Afrika initiative wants to explore new ways to link the growth of business with initiatives that accelerate growth for the continent. To help highlight its commitment, Microsoft also announced the AfriLabs Collaboration Challenge, which aims to promote sustainability of innovation hubs across Africa including 88mph and AfriLabs at DEMO Africa.

Earlier this year, Microsoft’s 4Afrika programme picked its top five African startups that will have access to the tech company’s innovation grant. These include Africa118, Kytabu, access.mobile, Gamsole and Save & Buy.

As reported by BiztechAfrica, below is the list of the seven chosen startups:

  • Ukall (Kenya) – The startup focuses on automating business processes, allowing companies to run more efficiently. Their mobile application, Akida, for instance, addresses the challenges of staff attendance verification.
  • Cojengo (East Africa) – Based on the Swahili word Kujenga, Cojengo creates mobile and cloud solutions that address animal and human health issues. Their VetAfrica app helps farmers diagnose livestock disease and share disease surveillance data.
  • MobiPay (Kenya) – MobiPay facilitates commerce and trade through mobile devices in the SME, agricultural and remittance sectors. Their AgriLife solution helps farmers access market opportunities, receive financing and get information on how best to grow, manage and market their produce.
  • iTaxi.ma (Morocco) – The company introduces a mobile application that lets users book, track and rate taxis within Morocco. The app uses geo-location technology, allowing users to send their location and transport details to available taxi drivers in the area and track their progress.
  • AfNov (Rwanda) – The company has developed a mobile application, called Ikaye y’umudugudu, which allows users to report their community challenges and conflicts to government. Users can also track development and progress within government institutions, ensuring accountability and enhanced development.
  • BookNow (Kenya) – BookNow is a mobile system that allows Kenyan’s to buy bus tickets online, providing secure mobile money and card payment options and enabling customers to avoid long queues.
  • MMINDZS (Uganda) – This company is said to develop and exploit technology and technology-driven processes for African SMEs and local businesses. For instance, it’s developed a mobile money-ready accounting system for businesses.
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