Ekovolt, a Nigerian startup along side 11 others have received seed grants from Microsoft to address Internet connectivity gap in underserved markets including Nigeria.
Microsoft says its Affordable Access Initiative hopes to democratize access to the Internet through grants, commercial partnerships and also connecting new leaders and community engagement to accelerate affordable Internet access in communities the world over.
According to the tech giant, each company received seed grants and resources including BizSpark tools such as free software, services and technology support to help extend the reach of their hardware, applications, connectivity and power solutions.
Grant recipients that include companies and countries are already addressing a range of challenges that take advantage of last-mile access technologies such as TV white spaces and their business models also demonstrate the ability to scale up and be market-sustained, Microsoft says.
According to Microsoft, its grant marks progress on the commitments the company made earlier this year to invest $1 billion to bring the power of cloud technology to serve the public good, including through expanding the availability of affordable broadband services, new commercial partnerships and expanded philanthropic programmes.
Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of business development at Microsoft says that “with more than half of the world’s population lacking access to the Internet, connectivity is a global challenge that demands creative problem solving.”
“By using technology that’s available now and partnering with local entrepreneurs who understand the needs of their communities, our hope is to create sustainable solutions that will not only have impact today but also in the years to come”, the Micorosoft exec says.
The grant recipients, according to Microsoft are based across five continents in 11 countries and 12 businesses namely Ekovolt in Nigeria and some other businesses in Argentina, Botswana, India, Indonesia, Malawi, Philippines, Rwanda, Uganda, the United Kingdom and the United States.
In addition to financial support, Microsoft added that grant recipients will have access to a global network connecting social enterprises with peers and mentors to develop and share best practice and participation in annual immersive summits and monthly virtual touch-points, alongside ongoing support from Microsoft’s Research and Development team.
”To further empower people and organization in communities benefiting from the Affordable Access Initiative, our Philanthropies will make digital literacy, online safety and computer science education programs available through its global Youth-Spark initiative, as well as cloud product donations and training for nonprofits”, according to the company.