M-PESA and Microsoft Forge Alliance to Digitally Upskill African Entrepreneurs

In an ambitious collaboration aimed at nurturing and propelling the growth of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) across Africa, Microsoft is uniting with M-PESA Africa, the continent’s preeminent fintech and payments service. The partnership aims to bridge the prevailing skills gap and foster digitization, thereby enhancing the potential of MSMEs in several African markets through Microsoft’s Community Platform and SME Skilling Programs.

M-PESA Africa, renowned for connecting over 60 million customers and facilitating over 900,000 businesses through its innovative business solutions, is placing a strong emphasis on digitizing skills development. By integrating the Microsoft Community and Training platform, MSMEs will be equipped with the indispensable skills to devise robust business models, manage their finances astutely, and deliver unparalleled customer service.

Despite SMEs in emerging economies contributing a significant 40% to the GDP and creating at least 90% of new jobs, up to 80% of African SMEs unfortunately cease operations within their initial five years. In a continent that boasts the youngest working population globally and the highest entrepreneurship rate, addressing the widening skills gap and providing access to crucial business tools and finance has never been more imperative.

Through its Africa Transformation Office, Microsoft is staunchly committed to narrowing the digital skills gap and empowering MSMEs with the tools they need to enhance their market reach and consequently, bolster the overall economic growth across Africa. The technology giant is on a mission to digitally enable 10 million SMEs in Africa by providing them with pertinent business apps and ready-to-use skilling content.

MSMEs will gain access to Microsoft enriching skilling programs through M-PESA business solutions, enabling them to grasp vital knowledge to proficiently manage their finances. The skilling encompasses essential aspects such as basic accounting, financial planning, and cash flow management, which inherently enhance their likelihood of gaining access to formal financial services. Furthermore, digital tool adoption facilitates access to digital payment systems, thus saving time and diminishing costs associated with manual transactions.

The partnership harbors a benevolent goal to ameliorate the livelihoods of MSME entrepreneurs and their communities, and potentially, pave the way for these businesses to rival in the global market. Rooted in the program is the ambition to diminish inequalities and empower vulnerable groups, aligning seamlessly with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 10. The program will find its footing in various M-PESA Africa markets, including Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Tanzania.

Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, Managing Director – M-PESA Africa, expressed his excitement about the partnership: “Micro, Small and Medium businesses are the backbone of African economies and therefore empowering them to succeed creates an even larger impact for their communities due to their outsized economic contribution.”

Echoing similar sentiments, Gerald Maithya, Managing Director, Africa Transformation Office, Microsoft, emphasized the pivotal role of digitization in enhancing financial inclusion, especially for the unserved and underserved MSMEs. “Creating an enabling environment for these important economically active businesses that helps them thrive and participate actively in the continent’s economies is essential for sustainable and inclusive economic growth,” he said.

With a mutual objective of transforming lives and elevating the economic landscape across the continent, Microsoft and M-PESA Africa are harnessing the power of technology and innovation to uplift and connect businesses to more opportunities, thereby positively impacting communities and propelling their economic contribution. This symbiotic partnership promises to bring about a seismic shift in the operational efficacy and success rates of MSMEs across Africa, fostering a future where these enterprises not only survive but robustly thrive.


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