Microsoft for Startups, Nigerian tech experts meets to explore opportunities

-R: Gafar Lawal, Managing Director of the Microsoft African Development Center, West Africa (ADC); Akin Banuso, General Manager for Microsoft Nigeria and Ghana; Simona Cotin, Startup Advocate for Microsoft, London; Oo Nwoye, Executive Director, TechCircle.

Microsoft for Startups team during the week met with key players in the Nigerian tech community to deepen its relationship and explore ways to foster collaborations needed to grow the Nigerian tech and startups space.

Organised by TechCircle, the dinner event held in Vanilla Moon, Victoria Island, Lagos, with over 50 renowned startup founders, stakeholders, incubators, industry leaders, investors, policymakers, tech journalists as well as the Microsoft for Startups team in attendance.

Giving the opening remarks, London-based Simona Cotin, Startup Advocacy Lead, Microsoft, said Microsoft was excited to deepen its relationships with Africa’s emerging tech scenes, work with root communities and the organization’s interest to invest in African startups to collaborate and facilitate the development of products solutions for growth.

The Executive Director of TechCircle, Oo Nwoye, said the event was purposeful and help stakeholders leverage Microsoft’s activities on the continent.

“Microsoft is doubling down on the continent and it’s a great thing that they want to take inputs rather than move with their ideas,” Nwoye said.

“They are trying to engage critical stakeholders to find out what interests them, how they could help and TechCircle is delighted to facilitate this maiden meetup for the Microsoft for Startups team. I am very excited, not just because of the plans but because of the actions Microsoft has already taken.”

Akin Banuso, General Manager for Microsoft Nigeria and Ghana noted that the event is the first of many platforms Microsoft is deliberately creating to meet with, and understand the startup community, market developments and to see how Microsoft for Startups can support.

“Now is a good time, the market is exploding and we as a company are open and ready. We have the tools, expertise and experience of doing this globally, and we see that Nigeria is a young vibrant space.”

Banuso said the “mission is to empower every organization to achieve more, and we’ve realized that helping the ecosystem to grow will eventually grow the market and the region. Also, the more prosperous people are, the safer the environment is. Obviously, we’ve created superior solutions that startups using our platforms could leverage to scale exponentially.”

Gafar Lawal, Managing Director of the Microsoft African Development Center, West Africa (ADC), also affirmed Microsoft’s intentions to spur the growth of emerging businesses and how the organization has consolidated its commitment to the scene with the establishment of ADC.

“We’re probably the first company of our size investing in putting engineering centres in Africa and building what we sell right out of it. We’re using local talents and are actually amazed by the level of talents we’re finding locally.

“Currently, we have centres in West Africa (Lagos) and in East Africa (Nairobi) and plan to cover the rest of Africa while looking for ideas we can support to improve the communities we happen to be in.

“We are happy to partner with local talents and incubators, help them get to where they need to be through sponsoring and training, and possibly investing in them. We’re always on the lookout locally, for features or product ideas with potential for global impact. Such ideas interest us because our goal is to be good global citizens and to help develop potentials from everywhere we can find them. This goes in line with the vision of our founder to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”

Leading companies and representatives at the event include MainOne, RelianceHMO, Kuda, TechCabal, Ventures Platform, TechCircle, PiggyVest, smepeaks, UK Embassy, US Embassy, Flutterwave, Techpoint, SEND.NG, Sparkle CoLab, Kaduna and many other highly reputable organisations.

During the event, Nwoye highlighted the significance of corporate collaboration and active involvement of corporate organisations like Microsoft in the African technology ecosystem.

“I am very certain that more and bigger activities and programmes will be heralded here in the Nigeria tech space and Africa at large,” Nwoye said.

The Microsoft for Startups team will proceed to Kenya from Lagos, to continue its quest in deepening relationship and exploring collaborative options with the startups and players at the core of Africa’s nascent and fast-growing technology scene.

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