Tech Giants Invest in Africa’s Digital Future with New Partnership

Microsoft has joined forces with M-PESA Africa to bolster its Capability Development Academy. In this collaboration, Microsoft will grant access to the Microsoft Community Platform and SME Skilling Programs, aimed at fostering capacity growth and digitalization for Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises [MSMEs] across multiple African markets.

By harnessing the power of the Microsoft Community and Training platform, M-PESA Africa plans to digitalize skill-building efforts and harness the community platform to equip MSMEs with essential skills for enhancing their business models, financial management, and customer service excellence.

M-PESA, the leading fintech and payment service in Africa, connects over 60 million customers and more than 900,000 businesses across eight countries through its M-PESA business solutions, facilitating over 91 million transactions and processing more than $1 billion in value daily.

Safaricom PLC Chief Financial Services Officer, Esther Waititu [Right] with Vice President- Microsoft Tech for Social Impact [TSI], Justin Spelhaug, Safaricom Director Sustainable Business & Social Impact, Karen Basiye and Microsoft Philanthropist, Winnie Karanu. This was during the partnership meeting at Dunhill Towers.

Africa boasts the world’s youngest working population, offering immense potential for the next generation of the workforce. However, to capitalize on this opportunity, it’s crucial to address the widening skills gap. Small and Medium Enterprises play a pivotal role in driving inclusive socio-economic growth in African countries, anchoring their economies and contributing significantly.

In emerging economies, SMEs account for 40% of GDP and generate at least 90% of new jobs. Despite having the highest entrepreneurship rate globally, research indicates that up to 80% of African SMEs fail within the first five years. Key obstacles include limited access to business tools, finance, and digital skills.

Microsoft is firmly committed to closing this digital skills gap. Through its Africa Transformation Office, Microsoft aims to empower MSMEs by providing them with the necessary tools to expand their market access and contribute to overall economic growth. The company is working on digitally enabling 10 million SMEs in Africa by offering relevant business applications and readily accessible skill-building content.

Microsoft’s skilling programs, available through M-PESA business solutions, will empower MSMEs with vital financial management skills, including basic accounting, financial planning, and cash flow management. These skills enhance their prospects of accessing formal financial services such as bank accounts, loans, and business insurance. Additionally, adopting digital tools will facilitate access to digital payment systems, saving time and reducing manual transaction costs. Microsoft’s skilling initiatives will also nurture entrepreneurial skills necessary for starting and scaling successful businesses.

The program’s primary objective is to enhance the livelihoods of MSME entrepreneurs and their communities while creating opportunities for these small businesses to compete in the global market. At its core, the MSME upskilling program aims to reduce inequalities and empower vulnerable groups, aligning with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 10. This program will roll out in several M-PESA Africa markets, including Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Tanzania.

Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, Managing Director of M-PESA Africa, remarked, “In line with our purpose of transforming lives, we continue to pursue innovations and partnerships that connect customers and businesses across the continent to more opportunities while uplifting their livelihoods. We are excited to partner with Microsoft to upskill entrepreneurs and provide them with business tools that will enable them to run their businesses better and to grow their businesses. Micro, Small and Medium businesses are the backbone of African economies and therefore empowering them to succeed creates an even larger impact for their communities due to their outsized economic contribution.”

Gerald Maithya, Managing Director of the Africa Transformation Office at Microsoft, added, “Digitisation can significantly enhance financial inclusion, most particularly for unserved and underserved enterprises such as MSMEs. Creating an enabling environment for these important economically active businesses that helps them thrive and participate actively in the continent’s economies is essential for sustainable and inclusive economic growth. We are proud to be at the forefront of driving MSME development and financial inclusion in Africa and we look forward to seeing the positive impact of our partnership with M-PESA Africa across the continent.”

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