Empowering social entrepreneurs to achieve more using technology

Lahore (Muhammad Yasir) Microsoft, through its Microsoft for Startups initiative, has announced the launch of its Global Social Entrepreneurship programme.

Around the world, startups are creating new businesses, built around powerful technologies and designed to make the world a better place. Innovators and entrepreneurs are finding new ways to harness technology to drive purpose-led social enterprises that measure success not just by the profits they generate, but by the good they do. Microsoft is deeply inspired by the commitment of these social entrepreneurs, who are focusing their passion for positive change on improving human health and the environment, advancing social and economic equity, and much more.

But these are huge, complicated problems and far too large for any single organisation to hope to solve alone. So to empower social entrepreneurs, Microsoft is launching a new Global Social Entrepreneurship programme to offer qualified startups access to technology, skills, customers and grants.

The Global Social Entrepreneurship programme has benefits aimed specifically at elevating startups addressing an important social and/or environmental challenge through their products, services or operations.

“Solving global social and environmental challenges requires synergy of the right technology, partners, conducive environment and technology. When startups work together with investors, enterprises, governments, non-profits and communities, we are able to unlock new potentials,” said Microsoft4Afrika Director AmroteAbdella.

This global initiative is designed to help social enterprise startups build and scale their companies to do good globally. Microsoftbelieves in providing the foundational building blocks to help social entrepreneurs create companies that can achieve worldwide impact. Social enterprises that become part of the Global Social Entrepreneurship programme will receive access to free Microsoft cloud technologies, including up to $120,000 in Azure credits, along with technical support and guidance.

A dedicated programme manager will help Global Social Entrepreneurship startups market and sell solutions and connect to large commercial organisations and nongovernmental organisations that are potential customers. Participants focused on sustainability, accessibility, and skills and employability will also be eligible for grants. Furthermore, the social enterprises that join the Global Social Entrepreneurship programme will be part of a worldwide community of like-minded innovators who come together to share ideas, foster connections and celebrate success.

The programmeis available in 140 countries and will actively seek to support underrepresented founders with diverse perspectives and backgrounds.

Founded by two female Pakistani doctors Dr Iffat Zafar and Dr Sara SaeedKhurram, SehatKahani is empowering female doctors and digitising healthcare in Pakistan. An e-health startup, the company aims to democratise access to quality and affordable health care using cost-effective ICT enabled solutions through a network of qualified home-based female doctors.

The services integrate health with technology to create virtual solutions that provide access to health for all while making use of the untapped female health resources of Pakistan. Microsoft through the 4Afrika initiative has supported SehatKahani with go-to-market strategy and provided advisory roles for strategies on scaling up and growing their business. This has also facilitated the design of a digital health solution including a mobile app and a web platform to diagnose and treat a broad range of diseases virtually.

“We are working towards a future where healthcare is available to all irrespective of their gender, race, ethnicity or social class using technology as an equaliser for all, and our partnership with Microsoft has been a game-changer in our journey,” says Dr Sara Saeed Khurram.

Social impact startups from around the world are welcome to apply. The criteria to qualify for the programme includes a business metric that measures impact on an important social or environmental challenge; an established product or service that will benefit from access to enterprise customers; and a commitment to the ethical and responsible use of AI.Qualified startups will be eligible for grants in the areas of sustainability, accessibility, skills and employability.

Through Global Social Entrepreneurship, Microsoft looks forward to working in close partnership with social enterprises from around the world. To find out more about the Global Social Entrepreneurship programme, or to apply, visit startups.microsoft.com/socialentrepreneurship