Startups becoming East Africa’s greatest assets – Microsoft

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Startups are increasingly becoming some of East Africa’s greatest assets, due to their impact on local economies and job creation as well as their ability to create solutions for local problems.

This is according to Microsoft Kenya country manager Kunle Awosika, who was speaking at the opening of the Connected East Africa summit in Diani yesterday.

Awosika said enablement of SMEs is vital to economic growth in East African countries, as startups made such a vital contribution to economies and lives.

“Entrepreneurs in this region represent the true definition of disruption. They are creating solutions that are directly solving local challenges. They are hungry to create solutions that have market relevance and talk to the needs of the community,” he said.

“Startups and SMEs are increasingly becoming our greatest assets. They are sustaining local growth and the local economy.”

He said the fact East Africa – and Kenya in particular – is increasingly becoming a mobile-first society was benefitting startups.

“Kenya is the country of the mobile-first economy. About 30 per cent of the country’s GDP flows through mobile phones, which are currently more accessible than clean water and lightbulbs. SMEs have seen this as an opportunity, entrepreneurs are starting to use mobile to gather data,” he said.

Awosika said Microsoft has a strong belief that cloud-based tech, already becoming more common, will be pivotal to startups in future.

“It is a tsunami that you cannot avoid. Cloud-based tech will help us leapfrog into the future as Africans,” he said.

“It reduces the cost of doing business for startups. It removes the need for expensive hardware, software and servers. This in turn means SMEs can afford to offer their products at more reasonable prices.”

According to the country manager,SMEs have always been one of the most important focus areas for Microsoft.

“The Microsoft 4Afrika initiative pledged to bring ICT services to one million SMEs across Africa,” said Awosika, who also used his speech to announce the launch of Biz4Afrika in Kenya, an online portal for SMEs.

“We are extending this across Africa, working with partners to ensure there is strong collaboration between SMEs,” he said.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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