Microsoft and M-PESA partner to develop digital skills for MSMEs in Africa

Microsoft is partnering with M-PESA Africa to support its Capability Development Academy. Microsoft will provide access to the Microsoft Community Platform and SME Skilling Programs to drive capacity building and digitisation for Micro, Small and Medium SMEs (MSMEs) across several African markets.

Through the Microsoft Community and Training platform, M-PESA Africa will digitise skilling and leverage the community platform to equip MSMEs with the necessary skills to develop stronger business models, manage their finances and offer exceptional customer service.

M-PESA is Africa’s leading fintech and payments service, connecting over 60 million customers and more than 900,000 businesses through M-PESA business solutions across eight countries, processing over 91 million transactions and over $1 billion in daily value.

With the youngest working population in the world, Africa could supply the next generation of the workforce. However, the widening skills gap must be addressed to take advantage of this opportunity. Small and Medium Enterprises are a crucial part of contributing to Africa’s inclusive socio-economic growth. These businesses anchor countries’ economies and can contribute to inclusive socio-economic growth.

In emerging economies, SMEs account for 40% of GDP, and generate at least 90% of new jobs. However, research indicates that up to 80% of African SMEs fail within the first five years, despite having the highest entrepreneurship rate in the world. Access to business enablement tools, access to finance, and digital skills, are some of the key potential stumbling blocks for SMEs.

Microsoft is committed to closing the digital skills gap.

Through its Africa Transformation Office, Microsoft believes in giving MSMEs tools to grow their market access to add to the overall growth of economies greatly. The company works to digitally enable 10 million African SMEs through relevant business apps and ready-to-use skilling content.

Microsoft skilling programs available through M-PESA business solutions will empower MSMEs to develop the knowledge they need to manage their finances more effectively, including building skills such as basic accounting, financial planning and cash flow management. These skills improve their chances of accessing formal financial services such as bank accounts, financial loans and business insurance. In turn, adopting digital tools helps provide access to digital payment systems, which can help MSMEs save time and reduce the costs associated with manual transactions. Microsoft’s skilling programs will also help MSMEs develop the entrepreneurial skills they need to start and grow a successful business.

The program aims to improve livelihoods for MSME entrepreneurs and their communities and, hopefully, open opportunities for these small businesses to compete in the global market. At the heart of the MSME upskilling program is the goal of reducing inequalities and empowering vulnerable groups, in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 10. The program will be enabled in several M-PESA Africa markets, including Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, the DRC, and Tanzania.

“In line with our purpose of transforming lives, we continue to pursue innovations and partnerships that connect customers and businesses across the continent to more opportunities while uplifting their livelihoods. We are excited to partner with Microsoft to upskill entrepreneurs and provide them with business tools that will enable them to run their businesses better and to grow their businesses. 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,” said Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, the MD, M-PESA Africa.

“Digitisation can significantly enhance financial inclusion, most particularly for unserved and underserved enterprises such as 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. We are proud to be at the forefront of driving MSME development and financial inclusion in Africa and we look forward to seeing the positive impact of our partnership with M-PESA Africa across the continent,” says Gerald Maithya, Managing Director, Africa Transformation Office, Microsoft.

Launched in 2007, M-PESA is Africa’s largest fintech providing financial services to more than 60 million customers every month. The service empowers customers to transact- send and receive money, make payments, as well as save and access credit all from the convenience of a mobile phone. M-PESA has connected tens of millions of customers with access to financial services, contributing to a more than three-fold growth in formal financial inclusion across Africa. It has equally transformed the standard of living in rural areas and empowered women with access and control over their finances. Tapped by many to power the digital economy, M-PESA has contributed to youth empowerment through entrepreneurship especially in e-commerce.

Socio-economically, M-PESA has provided a lifeline for millions of people facilitating direct disbursements from governments and non-profits to refugees, patients accessing health care, economically vulnerable persons amongst other groups. It continues to be an innovation trailblazer through services such as Fuliza – the world’s first mobile overdraft, M-Shwari which pioneered mobile only banking, the Pochi La Biashara wallet, and the M-PESA Bill Manager among others.

M-PESA is run by Safaricom, Vodacom and Vodafone in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, the DRC, Lesotho, Ethiopia, Ghana and Egypt. It provides customers with access to the widest agent network across the continent at more than 600,000 agent outlets and to cashless payments at more than 900,000 businesses.


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