Microsoft, through its Africa Transformation Office (ATO), initiates meet-up for startup founders and entrepreneurs

Microsoft, through its Africa Transformation Office (ATO), hosted a meet-up for startup founders and entrepreneurs

Microsoft, through its Africa Transformation Office (ATO), hosted a meet-up for startup founders and entrepreneurs, which focused on the essential role of the founder within the startup ecosystem. The meet-up examined the vital role that corporate organisations, venture capital investors, tech accelerators and incubators can play in accelerating startup innovation and growth across the continent.

“South Africa is well established as one of the top four startup ecosystems on the continent and is leading the way for successful exits with more than one-third of the acquisitions across the African tech space since 2015. Microsoft is committed to nurturing and supporting our proudly South African startups through engagements such as today’s meet-up,” says Lionel Moyal, Commercial Partner Director, Microsoft South Africa.

This event is part of Microsoft’s initiatives to accelerate the growth of 10,000 African startups and fast-track investment in Africa’s startup ecosystem over the next five years. Founders attending the event had the chance to network with fellow entrepreneurs and hear from startup success stories including Q-Hop and BancX.

Q-Hop offers a contactless, cashless check-out solution to retailers, using a mobile app. The company provides customers with hyper-personalised promotional offers, and retailers with real-time unique data insights. Microsoft worked with the team to provide technical support including a review of their solution architecture and the development of ground-breaking AI algorithms.

BancX is a FinTech platform that helps companies and banks on the embedded finance and Banking as a Service (BaaS) journey, redefining digital banking and financial services and enabling customers to win in the digital-first economy. Azure is a key component in BancX’s vision to change the financial services landscape in Africa and beyond. Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to BancX, through its various initiatives, provides further fuel for the startup’s growth.

Technical sessions included workshops on accelerating product innovation at scale, fund raising during times of global financial crisis, how and why to consider geo-expansion and how to benefit from GitHub Sponsors. Attendees also learned more about the benefits of being a part of Microsoft’s Founders Hub.

“There is huge potential for Africa to become a thriving hub of digital innovation on the global startup landscape. Our ambition is to see an explosion of local invention and innovation that will contribute positively, not just to Africa’s digital economy, but to global society,” says Kunle Awosika, Managing Director, Microsoft Africa Transformation Office.

Microsoft supports startups across Africa

Microsoft has created 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. The ATO has also designed and sponsored business and technical acceleration programmes for startups in partnership with three accelerators in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria.

The ATO has engaged with more than 1,500 African startups through a series of online and physical engagements, and hosted 10 startups at GITEX in Dubai recently, including South African startups Q-Hop and BancX. During the event, they had meetings with potential investors and customers, as well as engagements with the Microsoft leadership team to develop their joint customer pipeline.

Access to funding is crucial to ensure success

To enable African startups to rapidly scale using investment funding, Microsoft has established industry alliances and partnerships with venture capital investors that facilitate access to $500 million in potential funding. 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 in the next five years to increase funding and enable them to scale up and drive economic growth.

Microsoft has supported a growth partnership with South African partner Technvst to provide 30 African startups with access to customers and market expansion opportunities. Other South African based startups, including Finclusion, The Awareness Company, Anisoptera, Omnisient and WalletDoc, have engaged with Microsoft on additional growth and market opportunities.

The Founders Hub

Microsoft’s Founders Hub was launched in Africa in 2021 under the ATO. The self-service hub provides access to a wide range of resources, from tools like Microsoft Azure, GitHub and Microsoft 365 to go-to-market and business support. This includes opportunities for startups to sell to Microsoft’s corporate and enterprise customers. Microsoft also supports startups in geo-expansion activities, where startups 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 our South African growth-stage startups with their business development and market expansion plans,” says Moyal.

The response to the Founders Hub shows the need African startups have for such engagement. Microsoft is currently supporting more than 1,000 African startups on the Founders Hub, through Azure credit, Dev tools, access to mentors and technical support, including nearly 150 South African startups.

“Our goal is to enable startups to rapidly scale using investment funding, and by providing access to skilling programmes, access to markets, and access to technology, with support from our engineering and product teams for co-innovation opportunities. We believe that startups can contribute significantly to developing Africa’s digital economy and contribute to the wider economic growth of Africa,” says Awosika.

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