Microsoft launches initiative to support social enterprise startups

KENYATechnology giant Microsoft, through its Microsoft for Start-ups initiative, has announced access to free cloud technologies for startups keen on solving social and environmental challenges in Kenya.

This will be done under the Global Social Entrepreneurship programme that the tech giant unveiled during 2020’s Sankalp Forum held in Nairobi.

As a platform for innovation, entrepreneurship and impact investing, the Sankalp Forum was the ideal place for Microsoft, a strategic partner of the forum, to make this important announcement.

The free access includes up to KSh12.1 million (US$120,000) in Azure credits, along with technical support and guidance. Microsoft Azure is a set of cloud services to help businesses address various challenges.

The global initiative is designed to help social enterprise start-ups build and scale their companies to do good globally as focus shifts to realisation of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Microsoft4Afrika Director Amrote Abdella says the program is aimed at elevating start-ups who seek to address social and environmental challenges through their products, services or operations.

“Solving global social and environmental challenges requires synergy of the right technology, partners, conducive environment and technology,” said Abdella at the launch of the programme.

She noted that when startups work together with investors, enterprises, governments, non-profits and communities, new potentials can be unlocked.

Social enterprises with an established product or service addressing an important social or environmental challenge qualify to apply for under the programme.

The startups ought to show a commitment to the ethical and responsible use of AI in their efforts to address social and environmental challenges.

Participants focused on sustainability, accessibility, skills, and employability will also be eligible for grants. 

Furthermore, the social enterprises that join the Global Social Entrepreneurship programme will be part of a worldwide community of like-minded innovators who come together to share ideas, foster connections and celebrate success.

Around the world, start-ups are creating new businesses, built around powerful technologies and designed to make the world a better place.

Innovators and entrepreneurs are finding new ways to harness technology to drive purpose-led social enterprises that measure success not just by the profits they generate, but by the good they do.

The program, which will also be available in 140 countries, will actively seek to support underrepresented founders with diverse perspectives and backgrounds.

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