By Lilian Mutegi
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has signed a collaborative agreement with Microsoft East Africa to enhance development activities in the areas of entrepreneurship.
The two organizations have agreed that Microsoft will provide training and mentorship services to Ethiopia’s UNDP-supported Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP) for 200 entrepreneurs. These services form part of Microsoft’s 4Afrika Initiative, which looks to accelerate Africa’s economic development and improve its global competitiveness by empowering local entrepreneurs. Microsoft brings this vision, as well as its vast experience in providing ICT skills, education and curriculum for developing countries, to the deal.
As part of this agreement, senior Microsoft executive volunteers will be required to provide support, including mentoring entrepreneurs on strategy and marketing, support the best innovators and nominate them for the 4Afrika Innovation Grant Award, provide access to Microsoft BizSpark, a global program that provides free software to startup entrepreneurs and in future, help entrepreneurs exchange products and service and gain global recognition through the Microsoft Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) portal.
UNDP’s partnership deal with Microsoft also includes a ‘Build Your Own Business’ training, which is designed to help micro and small businesses empower current and aspiring entrepreneurs.
This is UNDP Ethiopia’s first private sector partnership. Commenting on the collaborative agreement, the Resident Representative, Eugene Owusu, says: “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, agrees: “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 successfully partnered in the past in numerous countries to promote sustainable development, eradication of poverty, advancement of women, good governance and the rule of law. In this new partnership targeted at Ethiopia, the collaboration will focus on addressing some of the principal challenges faced in building resilient nations, by empowering citizens and preparing them to join a dynamic and innovative 21st century workforce.
“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,” noted Amrote Abdella, Director Startup Engagement Partnerships Africa Initiatives, Microsoft.
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