Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Five African startups receive Microsoft funding boost

Five African startups receive Microsoft funding boost.

Five startups from Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda have been awarded financial grants by software giant Microsoft through its 4Afrika Initiative.

The 4Afrika Initiative was launched by Microsoft last year to help Africa improve its global competitiveness and reach 2016 goals that aim to place tens of millions of smart devices in the hands of African youth and get everyone online.

The five startup companies to subsequently receive funding from Microsoft are LLC from Uganda, two Nigerian companies Gamsole and Save & Buy, and Kenyan startups Africa 118 and Kytabu.

According to a statement from Microsoft, the companies have been selected based on the uniqueness and scalability of their solutions, their business models and the relevance of the key problems they are addressing.

The solutions and apps developed by the startups are relevant to consumers and the African market, ranging from agriculture, education and consumer, the statement reads.
The level of funding has not been revealed though.

"As part of the 4Afrika initiative, we are excited to be supporting startups that have developed innovative solutions that address key issues in Africa," said Amrote Abdella, director of startup engagement and Partnerships for 4Afrika.

Abdella added, "Our support is aimed to showcase the importance of local innovation, but, more important, it highlights the great potential that African innovators have in competing with world-class developers and entrepreneurs."

Microsoft also revealed that in addition to the grants it plans to provide technical support and mentorship to help the startups develop their businesses through the company’s ‘centre of expertise.’

Below is a brief description of the different startups:

* LLC - A solution with a key focus in the agriculture and healthcare industries, giving enterprises the ability to collect, analyse and share clear, real-time information about their operations and supply chain activity.

* Africa 118 - A mobile directory services solution that helps bridge the information gap both for enterprises and consumers.

* Gamsole - A mobile game production company creating Windows games, with downloads topping more than 4 million.

* Kytabu - A textbook leasing application for low-cost tablets. Students can save more than 60 percent of their education cost by renting their textbooks on an hourly, weekly, monthly, school term or annual plan.

* Save & Buy - A Web and mobile platform that enables Nigerians to save toward the purchase of items conveniently and securely through e-commerce channels.

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