Microsoft on Tuesday announced it has awarded Affordable Access Initiative grants to 12 entrepreneurial businesses to help scale their solutions and business models to increase affordable Internet access in communities around the world. Each company will receive 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.
Today’s news marks progress on the commitments Microsoft made earlier this year to invest US $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 programs.
“With more than half of the world’s population lacking access to the Internet, connectivity is a global challenge that demands creative problem solving,” said Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of business development at Microsoft. “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.”
Microsoft’s Affordable Access Initiative aims to democratize access to the Internet through grants, commercial partnerships, connecting new leaders and community engagement. Grant recipients 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.
Grant recipients are based across five continents in 11 countries: Argentina, Botswana, India, Indonesia, Malawi, Nigeria, Philippines, Rwanda, Uganda, the United Kingdom and the United States.
In addition to financial support, grant recipients will have access to a global network connecting social enterprises with peers and mentors to develop and share best practices and also have an opportunity to participate in annual immersive summits and monthly virtual touchpoints, alongside ongoing support from Microsoft’s Research and Development team.
And, to further empower people and organization in communities benefitting from the Affordable Access Initiative, Microsoft Philanthropies will make digital literacy, online safety and computer science education programs available through its global YouthSpark initiative, as well as cloud product donations and training for nonprofits.
Below is a complete list of the Affordable Access Initiative grant recipients:
- African Renewable Energy Distributor (Rwanda)
- New Sun Road (Uganda)
- Zaya Learning Labs (India)
- AirJaldi (India)
- Axiom Technologies (United States)
- C3: Communications Consulting Centre (Malawi)
- Ekovolt (Nigeria)
- Wi-Fi Interactive Network (Philippines)
- Kelase (Indonesia)
- Movivo (United Kingdom)
- Tambero.com (Argentina)
- VistaBotswana (Botswana)