Microsoft has one again taken a step to show its commitment to the African continent as together with its partners Vodacom, the National Small Business Chamber (NSBC) and the Small Business Development Agency (SEDA), Microsoft launches the Biz4Afrika SME Hub which is “an online resource hub that will give South African small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) access to a range of free products and services from Microsoft and other partners. “
In a nutshell, business can register at http://southafrica.biz4afrika.com and receive for one year the following free services: own Domain, personalised web site, personalised email address, and tap into offers from over thirty various partners that can assist the business to grow. These partners span all 9 disciplines of business including finance and insurance, accounting, legal, marketing, administration, business services, business opportunities, technology and people. All the building components that both start-up and existing business need to operate. There is also a vast amount of learning and training material that can be accessed too.
“At Microsoft we believe in Africa. It is a continent that is driven by innovation which is transforming the people into a global work force” is how Microsoft Corp. chief operating officer Kevin Turner described Africa.
This initiative falls under the 4Afrika program and is Microsoft’s 2nd largest investment in a region “no one can do a better job and create a brighter future than African themselves.”
The 4Afrika program focuses on three critical areas: Innovation, skill developments and Internet access. Underpinning these are the Small businesses that drive employment and growth. In Africa it is no different and technology has the power to unlock growth.
Mteto Nyati , Microsoft South Africa managing director, said the research underlined Microsoft’s belief that the best way of addressing unemployment in South Africa, and Africa, was by creating small businesses. “If we can help small companies to succeed in the first three-five years of their lives, we will help grow job creation and economic development significantly”
SME that adopt the latest technology are more competitive and far outperform their peers. SME that use Cloud technology are seeing 14 points higher revenue than those companies that haven’t adopted this tech.
Whilst there are other similar initiatives, Microsoft believes that by partnering with companies and organisations Microsoft has the edge to encourage business to get online. Microsoft has also recruited and trained 43 agents who will be based around the country and will help business to get set up and connect. This is a unique differentiator as businesses that are currently not online are usually afraid and/ or unable to sign up for these programs.
Most importantly, Microsoft is willing to take the “lets see and adapt” approach to refine the program over time. Now that is a real African way of thinking !