Microsoft has partnered with African seed fund 88mph to expand its Microsoft Ventures program into Nigeria in a move expected to help improve startups’ productivity by offering tools, resources, expertise and routes to market around the world.
This expansion builds on the success of the first partnership in Kenya, announced in October 2013.
According to Amrote Abdella, Director of Startup Engagement and Partnerships, Microsoft Africa Initiatives,“There is a great opportunity to further develop the startup ecosystem in Nigeria and drive innovation. By expanding Microsoft Ventures into Nigeria, we hope to reinvent productivity for startups. This means equipping them with the technology that puts their businesses first, by providing affordable devices, cloud-based software and pay-as-you-go models, that enable anytime-anywhere access.”
Startups for the program will be selected based on globally established criteria. These include having a full-time founding team, a bold vision for tackling a real problem, technology-driven solutions and less than $1 million raised.
“While working with Microsoft in Kenya, we found we were very aligned on finding businesses that deliver value to consumers, helping bring them to profitability, and hopefully getting more investors interested in web/mobile businesses,” says Kresten Buch of 88mph.
88mph and a reputable Nigerian seed fund, L5Lab, created a Joint Venture called 440.ng, to invest in startups in Nigeria. “It’s still early days here and not a lot of players in this space, so we are thrilled that Microsoft wants to support our efforts here as well,” Buch concluded.
Microsoft Ventures was first launched in June 2013 as a coordinated global effort to help startups get off the ground. Microsoft Ventures accelerators currently operate in Bangalore, Beijing, Berlin, London, Paris, Seattle and Tel Aviv with partnerships with 3rd party accelerators in Moscow, São Paulo, Washington DC, Chicago, San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro, Bulgaria, Kenya among other cities and now Nigeria.
“88mph is a leader in a region where entrepreneurism is thriving and a great source of economic good. The Microsoft Ventures team is proud to be partnering with them in Nigeria and we hope to contribute to the success of 88mph, the startups they support, and the country as a whole,” says Cliff Reeves, Senior Director, Microsoft Ventures.
One Nigerian startup who has already benefitted from the partnership with 88mph is Abiola Olaniran, founder of mobile games company Gamsole. To date, Gamsole has over 9 million game downloads, making Abiola Nigeria’s highest paid Windows game developer.