Microsoft 4Afrika, The Association of Women Entrepreneurs in Morocco (AFEM), and INWI officially launched the Cloud Startup Academy in Morocco. The event was attended by Mr Abdelilah Benkirane, Head of Government; Mr Mamoune Bouhdoud, Minister Delegate of the Ministry of Industry, Trade, Investment and the Digital Economy; Mr Ali Faramawy, Microsoft Vice President, Middle East & Africa; Mr Fernando de Sousa, General Manager of Microsoft 4Afrika; and all partners involved in the project: AFEM, INWI and Microchoix.
The Cloud Startup Academy comes forward as the first entrepreneurship programme in Morocco whose mission is to help young Moroccan women (recent graduates or job seekers) launch innovative startups, based on the latest Cloud technology.
50 Moroccan women will be selected to follow a six-month programme, where they will receive accelerated training on the Cloud and new information and communication technology (NICT). Particular emphasis will be placed on strengthening skills related to communication, technology, entrepreneurship, marketing and even startup management.
At the end of the training, the 50 women will be able to launch a startup that specialises in Cloud solutions. Their startups will target SMEs/SMIs and offer them Microsoft Cloud and INWI Telecom POS solutions , to assist in their digital transformation.
“Today, we are proud to announce the launch of The Cloud Startup Academy for Moroccan SMEs: a project that aims to foster entrepreneurship and create jobs by unlocking the power of Cloud Computing. In an increasingly interconnected world, this is the kind of high-impact approach whose ripple effects will be felt across the entire ecosystem,” said Mr Ali Faramawy, Microsoft Vice President, Middle East & Africa.
Throughout their training, the young women will also have access to numerous devices, thanks to the partners involved in the project. AFEM will share its expertise in female entrepreneurship in Morocco; Microsoft will offer a dedicated workspace at Technopark, Accent Windows 8 tablets, and a “Devices & Services” certification; INWI will provide connectivity equipment and assist in training around telecommunications solutions; and Microchoix will assist with its large SME network. In addition, all partners will fund scholarships for successful candidates.
For years, Microsoft has sought out strategic partnerships to support Moroccan SMEs. Commenting on the launch of the Cloud Startup Academy, Laila Myara, President of AFEM, said: “Because of its expertise in initiatives related to improving employability in Morocco, Microsoft is the ideal partner to promote entrepreneurship in Moroccan women. This programme aims to help all Moroccan women who wish to succeed using new Cloud technology .”
The launch of the Cloud Startup Academy forms part of the broader Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative. Launched in February 2013, the Initiative allows businesses on the African continent to contribute more actively to Africa’s economic growth and improve its competitiveness in global markets. By 2016, Microsoft 4Afrika aims to equip young Africans with tens of millions of intelligent devices, put one million African SMEs online, improve the skills of 100 000 young people in the active population, support 100 000 graduates in skills development, and help place 75% of these graduates in jobs..
“The goal of 4Afrika in innovation is to bring to market and help African startups monetize their innovations and ideas. As part of the initiative, and Microsoft’s Devices & Services strategy, the Cloud Startup Academy will help boost the productivity and competitiveness of women entrepreneurs in Morocco, hence accelerating the region’s economic growth,” said Fernando de Sousa, General Manager of Microsoft 4Afrika