Microsoft, iHub and m:lab collaborate to increase innovation in East Africa

Image source: Microsoft.Image source: Microsoft.Microsoft Corp. has announced a strategic cooperation with business incubator, iHub, and the m:lab East Africa consortium to enable start-ups, innovators and the developer community of East Africa to expand their skills and build businesses with Microsoft technologies

The cooperation, which is part of the recently launched Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative, aims to offer these communities increased access to software, skills development opportunities and a means for innovative start-ups to access capital investment and achieve greater international reach.

iHub is an innovation hub for the technology community, comprised of an open space made available to technologists, investors and tech companies in Kenya and surrounding areas. m:lab is a consortium of four organisations that aims to identify, nurture and help build sustainable enterprises in the knowledge economy.

Together, they actively support the growth of entrepreneurs in Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Somalia and Southern Sudan. Microsoft will cooperate with the iHub and m:lab network on multiple projects spanning these countries, including the following:

- Supporting the start-up community with Microsoft BizSpark memberships, training, participation in events and access to business networking and capital investment opportunities. BizSpark is a global programme that helps start-ups grow into successful businesses through software support and has supported 625 African start-ups since the programme was first introduced in 2009.

- Enabling developers to access the latest events and workshops on Microsoft's newest development technologies through iHub and m:lab community events, including training with the iHub UX lab.

- Establishing a physical presence in iHub and m:lab facilities at which Microsoft devices, including Windows Phon6es and Windows-based tablets, will be available for testing applications and other software developed by the local IT communities.

- Establishing a connection between the iHub and Microsoft research teams to enable access to research tools and collaboration on mutually beneficial projects.

- Enabling collaboration between the iHub and Microsoft consulting teams on joint customer projects.

"Microsoft sees tremendous potential in African youth, developers and entrepreneurs, and we see this collaboration with iHub and m:lab as an excellent way to quickly and directly engage with these critical communities to listen to how we can best support their ambitions and goals," said Fernando de Sousa, general manager of Microsoft Africa Initiatives, at the recent Innovation Africa Digital Summit in Ethiopia.

"It is our hope that this collaboration will help many more African start-ups become strong players in the information and communication technology sector at a global scale."

Erik Hersman, managing director and founder of iHub, added, "We are very pleased to establish this cooperation with Microsoft, spanning the iHub ecosystem.

"Microsoft is clearly a brand that developers and start-ups want to engage with, and we look forward to this collaboration, which will accelerate the development of technology across East Africa."

The Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative has been designed to help Africa improve its global competitiveness. By 2016, various efforts spanning the continent under the 4Afrika banner will help place tens of millions of smart devices in the hands of young Africans, bring one million African small and medium-size enterprises online, increase the skills of 100,000 members of Africa's existing workforce and help an additional 100,000 recent graduates develop the skills to increase their employability, 75 per cent of which Microsoft will help place in jobs.

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