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VENTURES AFRICA – Global software giant Microsoft Corp., Monday announced five African startup beneficiaries of its 2014 4Afrika Initiative, an innovation grant designed to drive the global competitiveness of the continent’s next generation of developers and entrepreneurs.
Microsoft said in an official statement that it will award grants and provide technical support and mentorship through it’s Center of Expertise to the startups – access.mobile, Africa 118, Gamsole, Kytabu, and Save & Buy.
According to director of startup engagement and Partnerships for 4Afrika, Amrote Abdella, the continent is increasingly producing innovators with potentials to “compete with world-class developers and entrepreneurs.”
However, an ubiquitous lack of capital and infrastructure has impeded the growth of this crop of entrepreneurs.
Abiola Olaniran, CEO of Gamsole, developer of some of the most popular Windows Phone games in Africa with more than 4 million downloads, said: “The Microsoft 4Afrika innovation grant provides a great support as it helps entrepreneurs to further bootstrap their companies without giving up equity or control.
It allows us to not miss out on the kind of fast growth that only major cash infusion can provide,” he added.
“Microsoft 4Afrika is partnering with local organizations in creating opportunities for ‘smart capital’ to be available to our young innovators,” said Fernando de Sousa, general manager for Microsoft 4Afrika.
“Smart capital combines access to finance, technical skills development, business mentoring, sharing of global best practices and access to markets with the infrastructure provided by local partners to enable world-class companies to emerge from Africa.”
The Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative is designed to help Africa improve its global competitiveness and, in just under a year, has successfully launched various programs across the continent, including these recent innovation grants, to reach is 2016 goal. This will help place tens of millions of smart devices in the hands of African youth, bring 1 million African small and medium-sized enterprises online, upskill 100,000 members of Africa’s workforce, and help an additional 100,000 recent graduates develop skills for employability, 75 percent of whom Microsoft will help place in jobs.