Microsoft has partnered with leading African fintech company M-Pesa to provide digital skills training for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) across the continent. The collaboration aims to boost the capacity and digitisation of African small businesses in Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania.
The partnership will give M-Pesa’s Capability Development Academy access to Microsoft’s training programs and community platform. M-Pesa connects over 60 million customers and 900,000 businesses in 8 African countries through its mobile financial services platform, handling over $1 billion daily transactions.
As MSMEs account for 40% of GDP and 90% of new jobs in emerging economies like Africa, Microsoft and M-Pesa believe equipping them with digital skills is key to unlocking their growth potential. However, up to 80% of African MSMEs fail within five years despite high entrepreneurship rates. Lack of access to capital, business tools and digital skills are some obstacles they face.
M-Pesa Africa’s Managing Director, Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, said empowering MSMEs creates widespread economic benefits as they are the backbone of African economies. He added that innovations and partnerships that provide entrepreneurs with better tools to run and grow their businesses are crucial for improving livelihoods.
Gerald Maithya, Head of Microsoft’s Africa Transformation Office, noted that digitisation significantly enhances financial inclusion for underserved MSMEs. Creating an enabling digital environment for MSMEs to thrive and actively participate in African economies is essential for sustainable and inclusive growth.
Through its transformation office, Microsoft aims to digitally enable 10 million African SMEs by providing relevant business apps and skilling content. The programs available via M-Pesa will build skills like accounting, financial planning and cash flow management to help MSMEs manage finances more effectively. Adopting digital tools provides access to digital payment systems, saving costs and time compared to manual processes.
The training also develops entrepreneurial skills to start and grow a successful business. The goal is to open opportunities for MSMEs to compete globally while improving livelihoods. At its core, the program aims to reduce inequalities by empowering vulnerable groups, aligning with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
With this partnership, Microsoft and M-Pesa hope to close the digital skills gap for African SMEs and provide them with the tools and knowledge to succeed in the digital economy. Collaborations between leading tech and financial companies could be key to accelerating financial inclusion and empowerment for small businesses across Africa.