Microsoft Corp has announced its revised global BizSpark Plus partner programme, which offers up to US$120,000 in hosting and other services for qualifying startups, and named Sw7 as its partner in Africa.
The BizSpark Plus programme launches on July 1, and in doing so has partnered with over 150 startup accelerators in 47 countries. Sw7 is the Africa partner, with the list also including the likes of Techstars, ERA, MassChallenge, Seedcamp and 1871.
“Every startup is unique. Regardless of where they reside or what platform and tools they use, our goal is simple – we aim to help early stage companies accelerate innovation and get their stuff in the hands of customers as quickly as possible,” Microsoft said.
Odette Jones, Sw7 co-founder, said the accelerator’s selection as partner was a “very exciting endorsement” of what Sw7 had been doing in the region.
“We have been strongly focused on building the ecosystem and seeing what benefits we can find for the businesses we are working with. The lack of proper funding in the region means that any obligation free support we can offer the right businesses is significant. We do think this kind of offering will enable us to slingshot some businesses on to the global stage,” she said.
Fellow Sw7 co-founder Keith Jones said the BizSpark South Africa team had made a significant impact on the African startup ecosystem over the last two years.
“Their efforts are probably the single largest contribution we have seen to the tech startup community in Africa,” he said.
The benefits of the BizSpark Plus programme cover software, hosting and support, along with the advisory support of Sw7 and the extensive BizSpark ecosystem and the access to market this brings.
“The programme is only available through leading technology accelerators globally, we are the only partners that have been appointed in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Jones said.
“Placing Sw7 in the ecosystem alongside the likes of TechStars, 1871 and Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator is humbling indeed. This is a great platform for us to showcase the market changing innovations we are capable of producing in Africa.”
Microsoft said it had spent a lot of time listening to startups to better understand what they need to be successful when reviewing BizSpark.
“From deeper support for open source technologies and tools on Azure to running and managing seven accelerators in seven countries, via our Microsoft Ventures programs, we’re taking the feedback to heart,” the company said.