By Tom Jackson, South Africa
Microsoft has signed a collaborative agreement with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), under which Microsoft will provide training and mentorship services to 200,000 Ethiopian entrepreneurs in the UNDP-supported Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP).
The partnership is UNDP Ethiopia’s first with the private sector, with the services offered as part of Microsoft’s 4Afrika initiative, which is aimed at accelerating Africa’s economic development and improving its global competitiveness by empowering local entrepreneurs.
Under the partnership with the UNDP, senior Microsoft executive volunteers will mentor entrepreneurs on strategy and marketing, support the best innovators and nominate them for the 4Afrika Innovation Grant Award, provide access to Microsoft BizSpark, and in the future help entrepreneurs exchange products and services while gaining global recognition through the Microsoft Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) portal
Also included is ‘Build Your Own Business’ training, which is designed to help micro and small businesses empower entrepreneurs.
UNDP Resident Representative Eugene Owusu said: “The goods and services offered by Microsoft provides a unique opportunity to unleash the potential of young and budding entrepreneurs. This will help them to play a vital role in the economic growth and transformational development of Ethiopia.”
Eric Odipo, Country Manager of Microsoft East and Southern Africa, said: “It is critical to develop the capacity, knowledge and skills of local entrepreneurs who will stimulate local economies. We look forward to working with the UNDP in taking innovative business models to scale.”
UNDP and Microsoft have partnered in the past in numerous countries to promote sustainable development, eradication of poverty, advancement of women, good governance and the rule of law. This latest partnership in Ethiopia will focus on addressing challenges in building resilient nations by empowering citizens.
“Entrepreneurs hold the key in driving innovation and long term competitiveness in the African economy. Microsoft’s partnership with UNDP to support 200,000 entrepreneurs in Ethiopia is the first step in driving this growth,” said Amrote Abdella, Director Startup Engagement & Partnerships Africa Initiatives at Microsoft.