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.