Microsoft, UNDP Empowerment Partnership Attracts 200,000 Ethiopian Entrepreneurs

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World’s largest software maker Microsoft Corporation, through its East African branch , has entered into a collaborative agreement with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to provide training and mentorship services to Ethiopia’s 200,000 entrepreneurs through the country’s UNDP supported Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP).

These services, aimed at enhancing development activities in the areas of entrepreneurship, form part of Microsoft’s 4Afrika Initiative which looks to accelerate Africa’s economic development and improve its global competitiveness by empowering local entrepreneurs, said a press release by Microsoft 4Afrika.

The 4Afrika Initiative, launched in February 2013, will avail Microsoft’svast experience in providing ICT skills, education and curriculum for developing countries to the Ethiopian entrepreneurs, the statement added.

The statement disclosed that as part of the agreement with UNDP Microsoft would send Senior Executive volunteers to; Provide support, including mentoring entrepreneurs on strategy and marketiing, support the best innovators and nominate them for the 4Afrika Innovation Grant Award, provide access to Microsoft BizSpark, a global program that provides free software to startup entrepreneurs and in future, help entrepreneurs exchange products and service and gain global recognition through the Microsoft Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) portal.

The partnership, which is UNDP Ethiopia’s first private sector partnership, also includes a ‘Build Your Own Business’ training, which is designed to help micro and small businesses empower current and aspiring entrepreneurs.

UNDP’s Resident Representative, Eugene Owusu hailed “the goods and services offered by Microsoft” as providing “a unique opportunity to unleash the potential of young and budding entrepreneurs”. “This will help them to play a vital role in the economic growth and transformational development of Ethiopia”, he added.

Microsoft East and Southern Africa’s Country Manager Eric Odipo lauded the deal, describing it as “critical to develop the capacity, knowledge and skills of local entrepreneurs who will stimulate local economies. We look forward to working with the UNDP in taking innovative business models to scale”, he enthused.

“Entrepreneurs hold the key in driving innovation and long term competitiveness in the African economy”, says Amrote Abdella, Director Startup Engagement & Partnerships Africa Initiatives at Microsoft. “Microsoft’s partnership with UNDP to support 200,000 entrepreneurs in Ethiopia is the first step in driving this growth”, he adds.

UNDP and Microsoft have successfully partnered in the past in numerous countries to promote sustainable development, eradication of poverty, advancement of women, good governance and the rule of law. In this new partnership targeted at Ethiopia, the collaboration will focus on addressing some of the principal challenges faced in building resilient nations, by empowering citizens and preparing them to join a dynamic and innovative 21st century workforce.

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