Microsoft Ventures, the company’s “strategic partner for promising startups around the world” announced this week that the program is expanding into Africa, starting in Kenya.

Amrote Abdella, Director 4Afrika Venture Capital and Startup Programs
Amrote Abdella, Director 4Afrika Venture Capital and Startup Programs

Microsoft Ventures was created to give startups a leg-up by providing access to tools, technology and training.

Microsoft believes Kenya is quickly being recognised as an innovation hub, particularly in the mobility space. It’s been reported that there are 74 mobile phones for every 100 Kenyans and, of those who access the internet, 99% do it via a mobile device.

Expanded to Africa as part of our 4Afrika Initiative, Microsoft Ventures speaks to our belief that technology can accelerate growth for Africa, and Africa can also accelerate technology for the world.

Around the world, Microsoft Ventures selects strategic accelerator partners in each region to provide local market expertise. For our venture into Kenya, we’ve selected 88mph for its proven track record in helping local entrepreneurs turn ideas into thriving businesses. Since opening up in July 2011 the company has already graduated 32 startups. That equals nearly one success story for every month they’ve been in operation!

Microsoft will also be partnering with Gamsole, started by Nigeria’s Abiola Olaniram. Abiola had a vision of creating his own tech company, capitalising on the growing mobile space and people’s love of entertainment in Africa and all over the world.  Funded by 88mph and Microsoft’s BizSpark program, he started developing Windows Games and is now the highest paid Windows game developer in Africa, with over 1.5 million downloads. Microsoft Ventures website has a list of many other examples.

“We want to remove as many barriers as we can to enabling a startup to thrive. The program is simple: those who are interested can apply to an immersive 3-6 month accelerator program. The only requirements are a full-time founding team and less than $1 million raised. Qualifying companies will have access to mentors, technical and design experts, development tools and key resources,” wrote Amrote Abdella, Director 4Afrika Venture Capital and Startup Programs, in a blog post.

“Ultimately, we want to see a thriving African startup ecosystem contributing to Africa’s economic development and competitiveness on a global scale. We feel strongly that by partnering with 88mph we are helping to pave the way to a better, stronger future,” he added.