Microsoft to train and support Moroccan student developers, startups, SMEs

Microsoft to train and support Moroccan student developers, startups, SMEs

Microsoft is partnering with the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P) to provide Moroccan student developers, startups, and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with training, resources, and technology.

Microsoft and UM6P will develop a curriculum to skill up Moroccan student developers to prepare them for the job market. Startups incubated at the UM6P startup campus will get access to technology, markets, and investors. Morocco-based startups will also get access to the Microsoft for Startup Founders Hub and the Microsoft Entrepreneurship for Positive Impact program.

The partnership, UM6P says “will provide multiple audiences with stronger access to technology and upskill startups and SMEs with valuable digitization skills“.

Moroccan student developers

Looking forward to the positive impact that we jointly can and will deliver to learners, jobseekers, SMEs, and startups“, says Salima Amira, Microsoft Morocco General Manager, speaking about the partnership.

We are convinced that by increasing the number of qualified young professionals and empowering startups and SMEs to achieve sustainable growth, we will contribute positively to the growth of the digital economy in Morocco and across Africa.”

Salima Amira

UM6P will also identify and enroll SMEs in need of digitization support as well as provide them with access to independent software vendors (ISVs) and Microsoft’s Airband initiative.

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Ecobank Group partners with Microsoft to upskill SMEs in 33 countries in Africa

Ecobank Group partners with Microsoft to upskill SMEs in 33 countries in Africa

Ecobank Group Microsoft skills SME

Ecobank, the pan-African banking group, is partnering with Microsoft, LinkedIn, GitHub and Ecobank Academy to train and equip Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) across sub-Saharan Africa. The training will provide SMEs with digital skills and knowledge to reach their full potential. As well as play a vital role in driving Africa’s economic resurgence.

SMEs have been significantly impacted by the COVID19 pandemic with its attendant lockdowns and disruptions to supply chains, plummeting sales, lost revenue and operational challenges. In response to feedback from our customers, Ecobank through its Commercial Banking Segment is helping business owners close the digital skills gap within their chosen fields and improve the digital capabilities of their employees.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has turbocharged the shift towards digital”, says Josephine Anan-Ankomah, Group Executive, Commercial Banking for the Ecobank Group. “It is essential that businesses adapt so that they are able to compete effectively in today’s rapidly changing landscape. Ecobank’s Commercial Banking is committed to supporting SMEs across our pan-African footprint. Through this partnership with Microsoft, LinkedIn, GitHub and Ecobank Academy we are offering training to equip business owners and their employees with the digital skills that they need to stay connected to their customers. We are intent on ensuring that our SME customers remain relevant, grow and succeed in the post-COVID-19 era”, she adds.

SMEs have been invited to register here for the upcoming webinar taking place on July 26. The Global Skilling initiative program is available on an online portal where SMEs can register, and start their learning journey for any of the 10 in-demand skill sets (Customer Services; Digital Marketing; Financial Analysis; Graphic Design; IT Support/Help Desk; Project Management; Sales; Data Analysis; IT Administration; And Software Development). They can complete the virtual programme at their own pace and at times that work best for them. The programme runs until the 31st of December 2021.

Ibrahim Youssry, Regional General Manager, Middle East and Africa – Multi market region at Microsoft says Microsoft is “committed to building digital talent pipelines to support the workforce of the future. And our Global Skilling Initiative is an important part of this process. But beyond the future workforce, digital talent will also support more local innovation, as developers and entrepreneurs are empowered to create locally relevant solutions that best address the challenges and needs of African countries. Startups and SMEs play a critical role in innovation, economic growth and job creation, and expanded access to digital skills is one of the key steps needed to foster a successful economic recovery.”

The Global Skilling Initiative is just another example of how Ecobank wants to help SMEs reach their full potential and play a vital role in driving Africa’s economic resurgence. Other support initiatives for SMEs include:

  • The Ecobank Marketplace eCommerce solution for businesses to grow their sales on digital marketplaces
  • And the Ellevate programme to provide women-led/owned/focused businesses with loans, cash management solutions, training and mentoring opportunities.

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Standard Bank partners with Microsoft to establish the African Digital Foundry

Standard Bank partners with Microsoft to establish the African Digital Foundry

Standard Bank and Microsoft announce a strategic partnership to accelerate the digital transformation of Africa’s largest financial institution and further drive the continent’s growth. The Bank’s growing investment in the Microsoft Cloud will enable the innovation, efficiencies, and resilience required to respond to market dynamics and customer needs.

This partnership builds on the 30-year relationship between the two companies and involves migrating workloads, applications, and platforms to Microsoft Azure to drive organisational efficiencies, as well as workforce collaboration with Azure, PowerApps, Workplace Analytics and Microsoft Teams.

“Investing in the cloud will allow Standard Bank to achieve its strategy to transform from a traditional financial services company into a digital platform company, providing financial services, plus ancillary and associated services. We have adopted a cloud-first strategy, underpinned by end-to-end security and data-driven insights that will enable transformation with tangible results,” says Standard Bank Group Chief Executive, Sim Tshabalala.

“Standard Bank’s cloud-first strategy underlines the growing momentum in financial services to deliver differentiated experiences that today’s customers expect,” said Judson Althoff, Microsoft’s executive vice president of Worldwide Commercial Business. “As a long-standing technology partner, we are pleased to collaborate with Standard Bank in realizing this strategy and in becoming Africa’s future-first financial services firm through digital skilling-focused initiatives that will expand economic opportunity for young people across Africa.”

As part of the partnership, the companies will also:

  • Establish the African Digital Foundry (The Foundry), a strategic alliance, for Standard Bank and Microsoft to collaborate to co-create unique solutions through new technology to meet the financial needs of Africa’s consumers. Through the Foundry, the companies aspire to reach 100 million customers in Africa over the next five years.
  • Bring together their resources and know-how to provide youth with the relevant digital skills needed to secure future-ready jobs and equip Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with digital skills and capabilities so that they can take advantage of the growing shift to digital technologies.

The African Digital Foundry (The Foundry)

Standard Bank and Microsoft, through the Foundry, will co-create and execute joint go-to-market digital services related to trade, payment, and risk-based (lending and insurance) solutions.  They will also develop ecosystems enabling digital trading to facilitate Africa’s growth.

“The Foundry is a digital initiative established in Africa, for Africans, to address the unique challenges the continent faces with customised innovations, services and solutions,” says Tshabalala. “The partnership will further enhance and create ongoing collaboration between our firms around co-engineering solutions for African consumers’ unique needs.”

Skills and Small Medium Enterprise (SME) Development

Harnessing the power and reach of both organisations, the partnership will also drive digital skills development, boost youth employment, and accelerate the growth of SMEs on the African continent.

Both organisations believe that digital transformation represents an opportunity for the continent to leap ahead, taking a leading role in enabling economic and societal growth in Africa.

Microsoft and Standard Bank will leverage their combined research, industry, partner and start-up programmes to impact the continent – where similar opportunities and challenges exist – using technology such as mixed reality and artificial intelligence.

“Continuing to build on the partnership is part of the ongoing journey that Standard Bank and Microsoft are on to invest in digital transformation as the enabler of meaningful and tangible innovation. Our journey is underpinned by collaborative efforts to develop, scale and roll-out digital solutions that will deliver personalised services to 100 million Africans and by meeting their unique and evolving needs and demands,” says Tshabalala.

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Cloud computing can help SMEs beat global supply disruption – Microsoft

Cloud computing can help SMEs beat global supply disruption – Microsoft

Soromfe Uzomah, Head of Strategic Partnerships at Microsoft 4Afrika, shares on how SMEs can leverage cloud computing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

cloud computing Microsoft 4Afrika Africa

Global Pandemic

The global impact occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic not only on public health but on business, cannot be underestimated. Policymakers and stakeholders must thus consider the impact such global disruption of trade poses especially to small and medium businesses (SMEs). Anticipating and mitigating for the impact of unforeseen global events on supply chain management is crucial if SMEs, who are reliant on goods from an affected area, are to survive.

Due to their size and lack of resources, SMEs are often the most vulnerable to unforeseen events and threats. These SMEs also often do not have a plan in place to deal with supply chain disruptions. Yet, in Africa, SMEs are important drivers of economic growth. Accounting for up to 90 percent of businesses in sub-Saharan Africa, an SME Initiatives advisory by the International Finance Corporation reports.

Regrettably, one thing clearly emerging from the global Covid-19 pandemic is that SMEs’ supply chains from hub regions across the globe have been severely disrupted on an unprecedented level, and with an unpredictable timeframe for resolution as the virus continues to impact industrial production. Companies that would usually import items to sell, particularly SMEs, are unable to continue with business as usual because of trade disruptions. So, the question we must ask is, how do these SMEs make their supply chain anti-fragile?

Cloud computing solutions

Digital commerce platforms and advances in fields like digital analytics and artificial intelligence can significantly help to mitigate the risks of supply chain fragility. Flexible cloud computing solutions, data collection and analysis and automation software can all contribute to the success of SMEs in the digital era. Cloud computing also gives businesses the ability to scale, cost-effectively, to new markets. This is particularly beneficial for SMEs, who often lacked the resources or infrastructure to expand before. Partnerships with companies like Jumia in Kenya and Nigeria has, for instance, made Microsoft products available to SMEs in local currency.

The challenge now is to establish new supply chain avenues within Africa. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) can play the role of unlocking innovation, growth and productivity on the continent, especially for its SME segment, by translating spending power into economic development.

To date, intra-African trade is relatively limited; UNCTAD, the main UN body dealing with trade, said it made up only 10.2 percent of the continent’s total trade in 2010. Between 2010 and 2015, fuels represented more than half of Africa’s exports to non-African countries, while manufactured goods made up only 18 percent of exports to the rest of the world.

By creating a single continental market for goods and services, the member states of the African Union hope to boost trade between African countries. Some studies have shown that by creating a pan-African market, intra-Africa trade could increase by about 52% by 2022, although these predictions will likely be revised downwards due to the pandemic’s influence on the local and global economy. Regardless, better market access creates economies of scale. Combined with appropriate industrial policies, this contributes to a diversified industrial sector and growth in manufacturing value added.

Digital Platforms

Digital platforms and the adoption of mobile technology act as effective conduits for the exchange of value, and by aggregating demand across the continent, these platforms give small and medium businesses opportunities to access new markets, and to offer or identify goods and services previously limited by location constraints and marketing costs. These platforms create a diversification effect that boosts the robustness of supply chains.

Start-ups like CoinAfrique, which is based in Dakar, Senegal provide access to markets for SMEs through their free classifieds platform for new and used products. Which allows users to make money selling what they do not use and find bargains. The app currently has over one million downloads – and the team are now looking to scale to 10 million active users across francophone Africa. Other platforms, including Biz4Afrika, provide entrepreneurs and SMEs alike with access to valuable business information and resources, finance and markets, providing a boost to small business growth.

A powerful force expediting cross-border trade is the accelerating progress of digital technology in areas spanning from trade logistics, automated processing and e-payments to immediate access and exchange of trade information and documentation.

Cash flow is always a challenge for SMEs, no more so than when trade is constrained due to external factors. It’s always tricky for SMEs to balance working capital requirements with inventory availability. The growth of the fintech sector effectively simplifies any transaction challenges by creating multiple payment channels.

Microsoft 4Afrika

Many fintech start-ups across Africa aim to promote access for SMEs to financing options that were previously not available to them, which also opens opportunities for trade on a larger scale than was previously possible. As an example, Microsoft 4Afrika has partnered with African fintech start-ups, including Flutterwave in Nigeria and the MoVAS Group in East Africa, to open access to financing for SMEs. Diversifying and strengthening supply chains is crucial for SMEs to survive and flourish. When we consider that by 2035, the International Monetary Fund forecasts that Africa will have added more working-age people to our workforce than the rest of the world’s regions combined, it’s essential that we have a thriving SME sector to absorb these workers and help grow economies across the continent.

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Microsoft South Africa announces local availability of Dynamics 365 Business Central

Microsoft South Africa announces local availability of Dynamics 365 Business Central

Microsoft launches one-stop solution enabling SMEs to succeed in the digital era 

Johannesburg, 01 August 2018 –

Microsoft South Africa has announced the local availability of Dynamics 365 Business Central, which provides small to medium enterprises (SMEs) with a single, end-to-end solution for managing their finances, operations, sales and customer service.

New research from World Wide Worx entitled SME Survey 2018: Future-proofing the SME, has revealed that local SMEs are slower to adopt new technologies, and instead prefer to stick with their legacy applications and solutions. This can be attributed to various reasons including the familiarity that goes along with using legacy apps and the reporting challenges involved with obtaining data from various disparate solutions that do not talk to each other.

“By using Business Central, businesses are finally able to congregate all of their business systems as well as data and convert it into impactful and actionable insights for the business, all from within familiar Office tools like Outlook, Word, and Excel,” says Maureen Mansour-Khoury, Senior Product Manager, Dynamics 365, Microsoft MEA at Microsoft South Africa.

Mansour-Khoury went on to say that more and more, success for SMEs in the digital-first era comes down to expanding on flexible cloud platforms and the ability to meet customer demands in real-time, by collecting comprehensive data, intelligently analyzing results and responding with sophisticated automation software.

As a single, end-to-end application, Business Central offers:

Business without silos. Unify your business, and boost efficiency with automated tasks and workflows.

Actionable insights. Achieve greater outcomes and gain a complete view of your business with connected data, business analytics, and guidance delivered by Microsoft’s leading intelligent technologies.

Solutions built to grow along with your business. Start quickly, grow at your own pace and adapt in real time with a flexible platform that makes it easy to extend Business Central based on your evolving business needs.

“Technology is powering digital transformation and is probably the most important tool that enables businesses of all sizes to boost productivity, gain invaluable business insights into operations and their customers, as well as overcome business challenges such as limited resources. The local launch of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central provides South African SMEs with an opportunity to easily upgrade from their entry-level accounting software and legacy ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems. Moreover, they can do so without the main drawbacks usually associated with doing so, namely the sharp learning curve and having to congregate data from yet another system,” concludes Mansour-Khoury.