A memorandum of understanding (MoU) targeted at empowering about 10, 000 startups in Nigeria and other part of Africa has been signed by software giant, Microsoft and the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF).
The partnership, which eyes technology startups, will provide all the needed incentives including mentoring and supervision for the entrepreneurs.
Already TEF, which commenced training and empowerment of African startups since 2015, has completed the 12 months intensive training for two sets of trainees numbering 2,000, with a third set of 1000 trainees almost completing their training programme.
Speaking during the inking of the MoU, the Chief Executive Officer, TEF, Parminder Vir OBE, said the partnership would help the Foundation to achieve its target of training and empowering 10,000 African startups, based on the kind of technology support that Microsoft Nigeria will be offering, through its 4Afrika Initiative.
The partnership will see Microsoft supporting the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme with technology-based tools, resources and mentorship. Through the support, which will benefit TEF entrepreneurs across the African continent, the two organisations will help entrepreneurs effectively use information and communications technology (ICT) to modernise their businesses, enrich their offerings and reach new customers.
General Manager, Microsoft Nigeria, Akin Banuso, said: Microsoft 4Afrika and the Tony Elumelu Foundation share a common goal to accelerate economic and social development by promoting entrepreneurship across Africa.
As we enter into an era of digital transformation, it is vital that we help all entrepreneurs develop relevant technology skills and integrate ICT into their businesses. Technology can help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) reach customers outside their local market, generate powerful business insights and improve their customer retention. We have found that SMEs who adopt this kind of modern information technology (IT) have seen 15 per cent faster revenue growth than those not using it, Banuso added.
Microsoft 4Afrika will provide TEF entrepreneurs with: Access to cloud-based software, online support and technology through BizSpark; Access to information and markets through the Biz4Afrika platform, where SMEs can trade with similar-sized organisations; Technical training on Microsoft technologies and platforms during the 2017 TEF Forum; Online business and technology training through the Microsoft Virtual Academy, to support entrepreneurs through their start-up, growth and acceleration phases; Access to Microsoft experts for virtual and in-person mentorship through the MySkills4Afrika programme; and Access to the Interns4Afrika programme.
In addition, Microsoft will also identify high potential entrepreneurs from the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme and integrate them into its Innovation Grant Programme.
Every year, the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme provides 1,000 entrepreneurs with business training, mentoring, access to seed capital funding and membership into the TEF Africa-wide Network.