The firm said it chose 88mph for its proven model of helping launch and secure funding for innovative African startups. The two will provide startups with mentorship, technology guidance, seed funding, joint selling opportunities and more.
Microsoft Ventures takes a holistic approach to helping startups get off the ground through a community evangelism program including Microsoft BizSpark, an accelerator program and a seed fund that works with startups worldwide. The expansion into Africa was conducted as part of the recently launched Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative and will therefore prioritize startups in key sectors including agriculture, education and healthcare.
“Through the 4Afrika Initiative, we are deeply committed to fostering African innovation and to fueling Africa’s economic growth and competitiveness, and we are very proud to see Microsoft Ventures extend its reach into the African continent,” said Amrote Abdella, director, 4Afrika Venture Capital and Startup Programs. “We strongly believe that with the right support, African startups hold tremendous potential to impact both their local economies and the world’s perception of African-led innovation and entrepreneurship.”
To qualify for selection into this program startups must have have a full-time founding team, a bold vision for tackling a real problem, technologically driven solutions and less than $1 million raised. They should also have solutions that can scale across and even outside the African continent.
“Microsoft is a company that deeply understands the value of the ecosystem, and we believe that by working together, 88mph and Microsoft can offer a world-class launch pad to African startups looking to achieve true scale,” said Nikolai Barnwell, Nairobi director, 88mph. “We share a deep commitment to the African startup community and look forward to showcasing more and more African innovators on the world stage.”
The graduating startups from 88mph’s most recent accelerator class will participate in a DemoDay on Dec. 5 in Nairobi where, with Microsoft’s help, the startups will present their businesses and opportunities to invited investors.
Through the BizSpark program, the company has already helped support 625 African startups to date by providing access to Microsoft tools and technologies, and this program will continue. And for the second consecutive year, the company is also a sponsor of DEMO Africa, a startup competition taking place Oct. 24–25 in Nairobi.