Microsoft funds 7 African startups in its second round of 4Afrika initiative grant

17th Oct 2014
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Earlier this year, we wrote about Microsoft’s 1st round of funding for 5 startups.

Microsoft’s 4Afrika initiative was started in 2013 to assist African startups improve their global competitiveness.While they are at it, Microsoft wants to facilitateproactive engagement in Africa’s economic developmentand make sure developers use Windows Azure platform. Microsoft plans to spend $75 million over the next three years in the initiative.

Microsoft 4Afrika
Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative

The company official statement highlighted that “By 2016, Microsoft’s goal is to place tens of millions of Windows phones in the hands of the African youth(they partnered with Huawei 4Afrika), and bring one million African small and medium-sized enterprises online, up skill 100,000 members of Africa’s workforce, and help an additional 100,000 recent graduates develop skills for employability, 75 percent of whom Microsoft will help place in jobs.”

“The world is looking for the next growth pole, and Africa is positioned to be exactly that,” says Fernando de Sousa, GM of Microsoft’s Africa Initiatives.

Here are the seven startups that won the second round of Microsofts 4Afrika initiative grant.

AfNov:

Reckoning African innovation, Rwandan-based AfNov is a software development company. The company has an app called ‘Ikaye y’umudugudu’ which allows the remotely located rural population to report their community challenges and conflicts to government in an updated manner. Traditionally when conflicts happen, information collection and reporting is paper based and it takes too much time to be transferred from village to a city. Even by the time it reachesgovernment office it will become stale and outdated. But the AfNov systems enable users to track development and progress within government institutions, ensuring accountability and enhanced development.

BookNow:


Booknow Kenya
BookNow was founded by Michael Nguru and Francis Gesora in 2013 and accelerated at 88mph. Based in Nairobi, BookNow allows Kenyan’s to pre-book and buy bus tickets online; it has expanded to Uganda as well. At present, BookNow retails about 1800 tickets a month. Using the platform, travelers can select preferred destinations, times and bus amenities. They can browse a list of available buses, fares, sitting arrangement (window & aisle). Users can pay via mobile money or card."The Microsoft 4Afrika initiative gives startups like BookNow access to smart capital, helping startup businesses to grow without needing to relinquish control of their company or seek expensive capital,” said Francis Gesora, Co-founder of BookNow.

iTaxi.ma:


iTaxi.ma

iTaxi.ma is the Uber of Morocco that lets users get around in style. Founded by Tayeb Sbihi and Ali Echihabi, iTaxi.ma app lets users book a cab, track a ride and rate taxis service. Each taxi driver will have to pass scrutiny of identity verification. All vehicles equipped with a tablets and iTaxi.ma app. The service is available inside the city as well as for intra city trips. Users can see the driver’s details in advance, the name, picture, and plate number along with the rating. After getting dropped off, users rate the ride experience. The app is available on iStore and Google Play. 

MobiPay:

Agrilife ™ is a trademark of Mobipay Kenya Ltd. It is a cloud-based service that facilitates payment and settlement mechanisms between agricultural financiers (MFIs), service providers and remittance market. The platform helps smallholder African farmers that are largely excluded from formal agriculture finance and access to credit due to lack of recorded history.

MMINDZS:

Ugandan-based MMINDZS has built the world's first mobile money ready accounting system. MyAccounts is an integrated business solution developed by Africa for Africa where transactions are reconciled to books in real time. MyAccounts is designed to help the local SME comply with regulatory bodies by addressing record keeping and filing challenges. MMINDZS aims to develop and exploit technology and technology-driven processes for African SMEs and local businesses.

Ukall:


Ukall

This is a Kenyan-based startup founded in 2011. UKall has two flagship products, one is Upay HR management information system suite that handles payroll processing and reporting. It also has biometric integrated attendance management system. Ukall, which is centered on identity, helps companies to forgo their manual HR and Payroll files by automating the identification, verification, attendance, HR and payroll together in one platform.Another product of Ukall is a location based app tracking platform called, Akida. It lets you know where your field employees are by keeping track of mobile staff located in remote sites.

VetAfrica:

In 2008, Cojengo had developed VetAfrica app targeting East African farming community. The app enables animal health workers and farmers to accurately diagnose livestock disease and find the most effective drugs to treat the disease. The VetAfrica mobile and cloud solutions address animal and human health issues to share disease surveillance data. Currently, the app is available on mobile to farmers in Nairobi, Kenya; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Kampala, Uganda, and Tanzania.

Craig Taylor, CEO of Cojengo, said, “The innovation grant puts Cojengoin a very strong position for the future. It helps us continue to deliver innovative solutions that address global challenges.”

“The world is looking for the next growth pole and Africa is positioned to be exactly that. As investors assess industries and sectors to fund, there is a keen interest in exploring the future multinational companies that will come out of Africa. These are the startups and SMEs of today, which we aim to help grow to their full potential through smart financing,” says Fernando de Sousa, General Manager of Africa Initiatives at Microsoft.

 Feature image creadits : girlguides.co.za

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