A creative space to bring new ideas to life, Microsoft opens The Garage in Africa

A creative space to bring new ideas to life, Microsoft opens The Garage in Africa

In November last year, we hinted that Microsoft was bringing The Garage program to Africa. Months on the company is officially launching the innovation hub and creative space to engage with the broader academic, start-up and local tech ecosystem to develop and bring new impactful ideas to life. Microsoft The Garage Africa is co-located with the ultra-modern Africa Development Center software engineering offices in Lagos and Nairobi.

Microsoft The Garage Africa

The program is primarily an extracurricular resource for Microsoft employees to connect, experiment and be creative outside of their day job. However, Microsoft will open the creative space for hacking and making to the local tech ecosystem and Microsoft customers to use technology to solve a wide range of societal and business challenges. Through hackathons, engineering internships, and an experimental outlet for students and tech communities, says Linda Thackery, Sr. Director The Garage EMEA. Who was also at the ADC office sites launch events to concurrently launch the program. The launch of the Africa sites means there are now 14 Garage sites across the globe.

Welcome Garage Africa to the Garage family! Can’t wait to see the amazingly awesome innovation to come.

Linda Thackery

The creative space has three dedicated lab sections and fosters collaboration, innovation and a growth mindset. The lab section consists of a collaboration hub for hackathons and workshops, a Makerspace and an Advanced Makerspace. The advanced Makerspace has an electronic workbench, 3D Printers, laser cutter, PCB milling machine for creating prototypes. A Reality Room dedicated to working in the space of Augmented Reality (AR) Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality applications and dedicated space and equipment for doing work on Deep Learning.

We need a place for people to feel confident to take creative liberties, and that place is The Garage.

Jeff Ramos, general manager of The Garage
The Garage East Africa

Microsoft The Garage East Africa

In Kenya it will help Microsoft employees, customers and developers tap into their creative prowess, notes Lydia Karanja, Lead of The Garage East Africa. She says The Garage is structured as a freeform workspace where Microsoft employees, interns, schools, and community groups can find the tools and training they need to launch products and learn skills.

The Garage is meant to spread the values of openness and collaboration throughout the Microsoft ADC. Where people come to The Garage to work with interdisciplinary teams on passion projects that sometimes make their way into Microsoft products. This should ultimately allow Microsoft ADC to become a more prominent shaper of Africa’s tech culture.” 

Lydia Karanja, Microsoft Garage Lead- East Africa

The program initiative comes from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s drive to encourage employees to be creative, entrepreneurial and open-minded. It also takes inspiration from many global technology companies that started in the garage. The likes of Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Google and Hewlett-Packard to name a few. Through the Garage, employee projects have gone on to become full Microsoft branded products or features. Notable ones are Kaizala, Microsoft launcher, Seeing AI, FarmBeats, Mouse without Borders and the Xbox Adaptive Controller.

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