• Saturday, June 15, 2024
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African startups seen growing on Microsoft’s funding support initiatives

Events that shaped African tech in  2023

Growth is underway for African start-ups as Microsoft says it is out with a new initiative to support 10,000 of them, leveraging its recently established Africa Transformation Office (ATO). The initiative is also aimed to fast-track investment in Africa’s start-up ecosystem over the next five years.

Wael Elkabbany, managing director of ATO, says that to enable startups to rapidly scale using investment funding, Microsoft is establishing industry alliances and partnerships with venture capital investors that would facilitate access to $500 million in potential funding for African startups.

This funding, he revealed, would come from a network of venture capital investors, who would dedicate a portion of their financial support to startups in the Microsoft network.

Microsoft believes that the vibrant African startup market is well placed to become a cornerstone of the continent’s digital economy, supporting local innovation through relevant solutions to societal challenges, hence the support.

“Investments into Africa’s startup ecosystem are growing at an exciting pace,” says Elkabbany, quoting Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) which says there are more than 640 active tech hubs across Africa, accelerating innovation and creating employment, particularly among the youth.

Elkabbany assures that Microsoft’s recently launched global Founders Hub will now be available to African startups through the ATO, explaining that the Hub is a self-service hub that provides startups with a wide range of resources, including access to mentors, skilling content, tools like Microsoft Azure and GitHub, and go-to-market and business support.

He disclosed that Microsoft is also creating new partnerships with accelerators and incubators across Africa, including Grindstone, Greenhouse, FlapMax and Seedstars to provide industry-based startups with access to markets, technical skills and funding opportunities.

“These partnerships will provide Africa startups with access to skilling programmes, 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,” he assured further.

“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 explained.

Read also: FintechNGR targets startup growth with ‘marketplace’

Though Microsoft believes that the African start-up market is booming, Elkabbany points out that, “currently, the market represents less than 1percent of total investments worldwide. This needs to change.”

He reveals that Microsoft’s endeavour to dramatically scale its impact will be driven by an overarching strategy with three key focus areas, including the Founders Hub, Partnership with key start-ups and Partnerships with venture capital investors.

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

“The Founders Hub allows Microsoft to engage with accelerators, incubators and tech 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,” says Gerald Maithya, Startups Lead, Microsoft Africa Transformation Office.