Since 2013, Microsoft, through its 4Afrika Initiative, has been an active partner in Global Entrepreneurship Week. Four years ago, we launched our SME4Afrika programme as a way to empower African entrepreneurs, support like-minded organisations and help grow the Global Entrepreneurship Network. Ultimately, through content, workshops, tools, trainings, online portals and mentorship, we aim to bring SMEs online and connect them to finance, markets, technology, information and skills.
Why do we do this? We believe in African innovation and want to bring it to the world, making SMEs globally competitive. Like the rest of the world, we understand the key role entrepreneurs play in developing economies, creating jobs and creating new solutions to existing challenges.
We also believe in the transformative power of technology for SMEs. From our research and experience, we have seen that tech-savvy SMEs grow revenue 15 percent faster and create jobs twice as fast as those using less advanced technology. With a discoverable online presence, they also attract six times more customers.
4Afrika at Global Entrepreneurship Week 2016
During GEW 2016, the 4Afrika team were on-ground in 13 countries across Africa. Over the five days, we delivered a series of mentorship sessions to train SMEs on marketing, public relations and communications, human resources and other elements key to building a successful business model.
During our stay in Nairobi, we also hosted a 1:1 workshop with start-up Africa118. We first connected with Africa118 in 2014, when we awarded them with an innovation grant. Since then, Africa118 has developed another flagship solution based on cloud technology (InfoMoby) and scaled their business across East Africa. During the workshop, we worked with them to analyse their current operations, advising on potential cost savings and opportunities for further growth. We are now working with them to formalise these findings into a Strategic Growth Plan, ready to roll-out in 2017.
Success in partnerships
When it comes to growing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Africa, we have seen time and time again that working within a strong partner network is key. Together with the Global Entrepreneurship Network, we also work with accelerators, incubators, governments and organisations such as the Common Market for East and Southern Africa, who recently awarded our work with SMEs.
By working together, we can share learnings, align on best practices and approaches, and deliver relevant consolidated content for our SMEs, reaching a larger pool and make a more sustainable impact.
We look forward to participating in GEW again next year.
Author: Perry Kamel, Senior Business Development Manager for SMEs in Africa at Microsoft.
Image credit: Anje de Clercq (@AnjedeClercq), small business development specialist at ThinkRoom. Global Entrepreneurship Network may use the image freely.