Microsoft Inc has launched its Global Science Entrepreneurship programme, targeted at startups to achieve more using technology.
The programme, which was launched through the Microsoft for startups initiative, will partner with the startups to solve social, environmental and technological problems.
It stated, “Startups 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.”
All of these are aimed at causing positive change in the society, improving human health and the environment, advancing social and economic equity, and should be supported. “These are huge, complicated problems and far too large for any single organisation to hope to solve alone,” hence the decision to support them.
The Global Social Entrepreneurship programme will offer qualified startups access to technology, skills, customers and grants. The benefits are targeted to elevate those startups addressing an important social and/or environmental challenge through their products, services or operations.
According to Amrote Abdella, Microsoft 4Afrika Director, the initiative will help the startups build and scale their businesses to survive on the global landscape and achieve worldwide impact.
Social enterprises that become part of the Global Social Entrepreneurship programme will receive access to free Microsoft cloud technologies, including up to $120,000 in Azure credits, along with technical support and guidance.
According to Microsoft, a dedicated programme manager will help Global Social Entrepreneurship startups market and sell solutions and connect to large commercial organisations and non-governmental organisations – potential customers that they might not be able to reach on their own.
Participants focused on sustainability, accessibility, and skills and employability will also be eligible for grants. They would be part of a worldwide community of like-minded innovators, who come together to share ideas, foster connections and celebrate success.
“Solving global social and environmental challenges requires synergy of the right technology, partners, conducive environment and technology. When startups work together with investors, enterprises, governments, non-profits and communities, we are able to unlock new potentials,” Abdella said.
The programme is available in 140 countries and will actively seek to support underrepresented founders with diverse perspectives and backgrounds.
Microsoft has called for applications from all Social impact startups around the world. The criteria to qualify for the programme includes a business metric that measures impact on an important social or environmental challenge; an established product or service that will benefit from access to enterprise customers; and a commitment to the ethical and responsible use of Artificial Intelligence.
President, Microsoft Global Sales, Marketing & Operations, Jean-Philippe Courtois, in a statement said,
‘‘To help us identify promising social entrepreneurs from around the world who are pursuing innovative tech-based solutions that can have a transformational impact, we’re excited to be working with organizations like MIT Solve.
“A marketplace for social impact innovation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Solve currently supports more 130 teams of social entrepreneurs — more than half of which are led by women — from 36 countries. With its global reach and reputation, Solve will ensure that we recruit talented social entrepreneurs who might otherwise be overlooked.”
What you should know: Previous beneficiaries of this programme include; ICE Commercial Power, a technology-enabled renewable energy provider scaling distributed solar micro-utilities in rural, underserved, and unserved regions of Nigeria; and Farmerline, a Ghanaian company that uniquely combines technology and a network of field agents to create lasting profits for farmers everywhere.
“Our partnership with the Microsoft Azure team opens up new possibilities to boost Farmerline’sMergdata platform with AI and remote sensing capabilities that will increase our efficiency in creating solutions for farmers in rural Africa.
“With features such as fingerprint and facial recognition, we will be able to build unique economic identities for more than 341,000 farmers digitised on our platform. We also look forward to working with existing partners to further generate actionable insights from the one million acres of mapped farms around soil fertility mapping and yield prediction models,” said AlloysiusAttah, CEO of Farmerline.
CBN extends Covid-19 forbearance for intervention loans by another 12 months
CBN will continue to charge an interest rate of 5% for its intervention loans for another 1 year.
The Central Bank of Nigeria has announced an extension of its regulatory forbearance for the restructuring of its intervention facilities by another 12 months.
In a circular signed by Dr. Kevin Amugo, the Director of Financial Policy and Regulatory. the apex bank said it will continue to charge its borrowers an interest rate of 5% per annum as against the 9% originally offered. The CBN had on March 20th reduced the interest rates on its intervention loans from 9% to 5% as part of its response to the economic crunch brought on by Covid-19 induced lockdowns.
The CBN also offered to rollover moratorium granted on all principal payments on a case by case basis. All credit facilities had been granted a one-year moratorium starting from march 1, 2020 when the pandemic first gripped Nigeria.
See excerpt from Circular
“The Central Bank of Nigeria reduced the interest rates on the CBN intervention facilities from 9% to 5% per annum for one-year effective March 1, 2020, as part of measures to mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on the Nigerian economy.”
Credit facilities, availed through participating banks and OFIs, were also granted a one-year moratorium on all principal payments with effect from March 1, 2020.
Following the expiration of the above timelines, the CBN hereby approves as follows:
1) The extension by another twelve (12) months to February 28, 2022 of the discounted interest rate for the CBN intervention facilities;
2) The roll-over of the moratorium on the above facilities shall be considered on a case by case basis.
What this means
Companies who secured intervention funds from the CBN or through any of its on-lending banks will continue to service the loans at an interest rate of 5% per annum instead of 9%.
- They can also get another year of not needing to pay back the principal sum collection. However, they will need to apply.
- Whilst this move helps the small businesses continue to manage their cash flow, it means the CBN will record a reduction in its income extended under such facility.
- Regulatory forbearance is a widely adopted concept during an economic crunch and it is meant to help stimulate businesses. These pronouncements if implemented will only affect those who borrow from the CBN or BOI but those who do not will miss out.
- Download the circular here.
LNG boss tasks FG to begin the monetization of Nigeria’s gas
Mr Attah has urged the FG to take the gas sector more seriously as the future of Nigeria’s energy lies with it.
The MD and CEO of Nigeria LNG Limited Mr. Tony Attah has tasked the Federal Government to begin the revamping and monetization of the Gas sector in Nigeria.
He made this statement while making his presentation at the 2nd virtual Nigerian Gas Association (NGA) Industry Multilogues, with the theme: “Powering Forward, Enabling Nigeria’s Industrialization via Gas.”
Mr. Tony Attah drew the attention of the audience to the hidden treasure in the Nigerian Gas industry which he believes is not getting enough attention from the government.
On the future of gas as an alternative energy source, Mr. Attah stated that the developed world is already keying into gas as an alternative to crude oil. Gas has proven to be a cleaner and more sustainable alternative.
He exclaimed that Nigeria is very rich in gas and yet poor in energy. Nigeria is the 9th country with the largest gas reserves in the world but makes very little use of it.
Mr. Attah went further to paint a clear picture of the promise of investing in gas using the success achieved by Qatar. Qatar is currently the largest LNG exporter in the world.
“We just touched on a quick case study of Qatar. Someone mentioned Qatar already from a poor fishing country to a gas giant and it took just 10 years, which is why we, as Nigeria LNG, firmly believe in the conversation and the narrative about the declaration of the decade of gas.
“We believe it is possible. If you look at Qatar from 1995, when they really went into gas development, we were just two years behind Qatar. So, Qatar’s first LNG was in 1997.
“Nigeria’s first LNG was in 1999, just two years behind. But then, within 10 years, because of the deliberateness of the government and focus on gas, they have gone to 77 million tonnes and we are at best, 22 million tonnes,” Attah said.
Mr. Attah stressed further the importance of the gas sector in Nigeria’s future. He recalled that the Nigerian Government declared 2021-2030 as the decade of gas. He pleaded with the government to take the sector more seriously as the future of Nigeria’s energy lies with it.
“Gas is the future. That future is now, and just as the Minister of State has made us to realize, gas is food in fertilizer. Gas is transport as you saw in the Auto gas project that was declared.
“Gas is life, as a matter of fact, for cooking, for heating, for existence. Gas is development in manufacturing, gas is power. Gas is everything. “We think it’s time for gas. It’s time for Nigeria to diversify and that is why we fully support the decade of gas,” he said.
What you should know
- Early last year, the director of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) Mr Sarki Auwalu confirmed that Nigeria’s proven gas reserve stood at 203.16 trillion cubic feet.
- Nigeria has the 9th largest gas reserves in the world. It is also the 6th largest exporter of gas.
- The Federal Government declared the year 2021–2030 as the “Year of the Gas“. It pledged to finally kick start the development and commercialization of Nigeria’s huge gas reserves.
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