The South African government has partnered with Microsoft to expand its existing BizSpark programme to provide business support to 600 technology start-ups over the next three years, using funding from government’s Jobs Fund and Microsoft’s 4Afrika initiative.
The privatized Microsoft BizSpark programme offers technology and support to start-ups that develop software-based products and services. It has been in business for less than five years and brings in less than $1 million annual revenue.
In addition to giving the start-ups free access to technology such as the Window 8 OS, the programme offers technical support, business training and exposure to a network of more than 2,000 partners to connect small businesses with incubators, investors, advisors and government agencies.
Microsoft SA MD Mteto Nyati said the enhanced BizSpark programme will not only give small software developer start-ups a far greater ability to develop local solutions, but also the business acumen to take their software to market.
“The BizSpark programme has been the breeding ground for some incredible start-up entrepreneurs and small software businesses. But we can do a lot more for this community by partnering with government and local incubators to provide additional benefits to our start-ups, improving their success and that of the broader ICT industry. This will grow the industry and ultimately provide more people with employment,” said the Managing Director
Dumisa Hlatshwayo, the Jobs Fund’s chief investment officer, said entrepreneurship and innovation are critical elements in driving a nation’s economy.
“The Jobs Fund is designed to challenge the public and private sector, as well as civil society organizations to commit their ideas and resources to innovative job creation programmes.”
The Jobs Fund was introduced by finance minister Pravin Gordhan in June 2011, to address the high levels of unemployment in SA through, co-financing projects by public, private and non-governmental organizations that contribute to job creation.
“Entrepreneurs who start small businesses are the real job creators in SA. But it’s not just up to the government to provide support and incentives for SMBs. When big business and SMBs collaborate, they help drive an entire new wave of business and innovation in our country,” said Hlatshwayo.