The Microsoft for Startups initiative has announced the launch of the new Global Social Entrepreneurship programme.
Designed the make the world a better place, startups are creating new businesses built on powerful and innovative technologies. Innovators and entrepreneurs are finding new ways to harness tech to drive purpose-led social enterprises that measure success by the good they do and not just by what profit they generate.
However, the modern issues they face are huge and complicated, often far too large for a single organization to take on. Microsoft is set to fill in this gap and help startups access technology, skills, customers and grants and it will do this via this new programme.
“Solving global social and environmental challenges requires synergy of the right technology, partners and ensure that they function within a conducive environment. When startups work together with investors, enterprises, governments, non-profits and communities, we are able to unlock new potentials,” says Microsoft4Afrika Director, Amrote Abdella.
This global initiative is designed to help social enterprise startups build and scale their companies to do good globally. Microsoft believes in providing the foundational building blocks to help social entrepreneurs create companies that can achieve worldwide impact.
Social enterprises that become part of the Global Social Entrepreneurship programme will receive access to free Microsoft cloud technologies, along with technical support and guidance need to maximize the potential of these services.
The social enterprises that join the Global Social Entrepreneurship programme will be part of a worldwide community of like-minded innovators who come together to share ideas, foster connections and celebrate success.
The programme is available in 140 countries and will actively seek to support underrepresented founders with diverse perspectives and backgrounds.
African startups already benefitting
At Zindi – which is based in Cape Town, South Africa -CEO, Celina Lee sees incredible opportunities to be a catalyst for applying the power of AI to challenges for businesses, nonprofits and governments in Africa.
A platform for hosting online machine learning competitions, Zindi connects engineers and data scientists at every level of experience with organisations that have difficult problems that machine learning and AI can help solve.
Recent Zindi competitions include a UNICEF-sponsored effort to use AI to predict the impact of flooding in Malawi, a challenge to be presented at the International Conference on Learning Representations to use computer vision to recognise crop diseases, and a competition sponsored by Tunisia’s Ministry of Finance to use AI to detect tax fraud.
As important as the results of these competition are in creating AI solutions to meet the specific needs of African communities and organisations, Lee believes Zindi can have an even greater long-term impact by helping to build and support a thriving AI ecosystem in Africa and by giving young data scientists opportunities to improve their skills, build their work portfolios and connect with potential employers.
I’m a startup, what do I need to qualify?
Social impact startups from around the world are welcome to apply. The criteria to qualify for the programme includes a business metric that measures the 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 AI. Qualified startups will be eligible for grants in the areas of sustainability, accessibility, skills and employability.
If you’re interested in applying with your startup, simply go here.
By Microsoft for Startups
Edited by Luis Monzon
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