Microsoft South Africa to invest R1.3 billion in local SME sector – Hypertext


  • Microsoft South Africa has announced that it will invest R1.3 billion into the country’s SME sector.
  • The investment was part of a commitment signed with the Department of Trade, Industry, and Competition (DTIC).
  • The Fund will look at digitally transforming SMEs, as well as introducing technology to non-tech sectors in SA.

Microsoft South Africa has announced a sizeable investment into the country’s small-to-medium-sized enterprise space.

This as the company, together with the Department of Trade, Industry, and Competition (DTIC) this week signed a commitment to the tune of R1.3 billion to target South African SMEs.

In particular Microsoft South Africa says it is, “Deepening its commitment to the country and job creation to spur SMME development, create local opportunities, growth, and ready the country for AI transformation.”

R1.3 billion will specifically be used to unlock inclusive growth as the company terms it, and contribute to building a digital economy, as well as foster greater entrepreneurship and innovation, along with fuelling job creation.

“The Fund will assist black South Africans in non-tech sectors to harness the power of technology and improve their competitiveness and ability to innovate and expand their operations. It will also act as a bridge to enable young people to get training, certification, and job-placement, so that talented South Africans gain access to the opportunities that arise from an increasingly digitalised world,” explained Ebrahim Patel (pictured above), Minister of Trade, Industry, and Competition.

Further unpacking what will form part of the commitment, Microsoft South Africa noted that there will be programmes designed to build ICT capability in SMEs and youth so that local can create new ways to address youth unemployment, employability, inequality, sustainability, and global competitiveness.

This will be done in the areas of data analytics, cybersecurity, AI, and machine learning amongst others, according to the company.

“Consistent with our mission to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more, this investment represents our commitment to empowering individuals and small businesses to be part of Africa’s digital economy, and to drive job creation and growth that will benefit the entire region,” added Lillian Barnard, president for Microsoft Africa.

The company also pointed out that the SME development programme focuses not only on technical skills, but will delve into entrepreneurial capabilities in order to create sustainable businesses in South Africa too.

“Transformative technologies, such as cloud and AI, have the potential to solve some of South Africa’s most pressing challenges, while also unlocking opportunities to fuel inclusive, sustainable economic growth,” Barnard concluded.

At the time of writing, it still remains to be seen whether this sizeable R1.3 billion investment will be put to use efficiently given the DTIC’s involvement, but the pair have noted that it will benefit as many as 42 SMEs and startups, 18 TVET colleges, over 2 000 individuals with advanced AI capabilities, and up to 20 advanced research and development projects to address the needs of the country.

Here’s hoping all of the above comes to fruition.

[Image – Provided]


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