By Emeka Aginam
There appears to be better days ahead for young entrepreneurs in Nigeria as the Microsoft Cloud Start-Up academy also known as the Cloudpreneur Project will train 100 Nigerian start-ups and provide 20 of them with mentorship to manage and sustain their Cloud-based businesses.

The capacity building project which is expected to provide participating startups with entrepreneurship, Cloud and ICT training is in collaboration with Fate Foundation and Mara Mentor.

The program when completed will enable 20 best performing participants to receive mentorship to manage their own profitable businesses based on Cloud technology.

The Project will be open to 1 000 applicants who have been in business for one to three years.From these applications, 100 successful participants will be chosen. These participants will receive a four-week long training on business management, including training on: sales, technology, entrepreneurship, marketing, communication and start-ups management. Following this, 30 of these 100 participants will be provided with startup models and, finally, the top 20 performers will be mentored on how tobuild their own Cloud-based business.

“Microsoft is committed to improving youth skills for both entrepreneurship and employability across Africa,” Kabelo Makwane, Managing Director of Microsoft Nigeria, said, adding that, “Our efforts in Nigeria started with the launch of the Employability Portal in 2013, which provides a platform for youth to learn leadership skills and network with other leaders. Now through the Cloudpreneur Project, we hope to enable and empower young business owners, so that they can contribute to the social and economic growth of Nigeria.”

According to him, “Cloud technology has the potential to transform competitiveness amongst startups and SMEs, which is why we’re encouraging adoption of the Cloud through this Project,” “It delivers easier access to IT, slashes costs, improves productivity and enables more agile, innovative business models, where everything startups need can be accessed and done on the web anywhere, anytime and off any device.”

Also speaking, Habiba Balogun an Executive Director at Fate Foundation said “Fate Foundation is delighted to partner and support Microsoft in its Cloudpreneur initiative which aims to empower entrepreneurs in the Tech-related business to not only improve and hone their skills and knowledge via an intensive training under the assured guidance of Microsoft but also to be equipped to run successful businesses and create employment via Fate Foundation’s proven Entrepreneurship Training. Technological Innovation translated into economic activity is the future for Nigeria and we commend Microsoft for being part of enabling wealth creation in Nigeria.” She said.

It would be recalled that a   similar initiative, known as the Cloud Startup Academy, was launched by Microsoft, the Association of Women Entrepreneurs in Morocco (AFEM) and INWI in Morocco in June 2014.

The Academy takes 50 Moroccan women through a six-month programme, where they receive accelerated training on the Cloud to help them launched Cloud-based solutions. While the Academy is open only to women particularly young graduates and job seekers – the Cloudpreneur Project is open to both male and female startups across Nigeria.

“Mara Mentor is proud to bring our expertise in entrepreneurship support and mentorship to the Cloudpreneurs Project,” Hetal Shah, Director of Operations at Mara, said, adding that, “As an initiative focused on enabling, empowering and inspiring entrepreneurs, we believe this is an opportunity for young Nigerians in technology to get the training, support, and mentorship needed to build or grow cloud-based businesses.

“It is pertinent that young people embrace the culture entrepreneurship in line with global trends, and with increasing wave of cloud computing, Mara Mentor is happy to partner with Microsoft to empower cloud-based entrepreneurs and their ideas,”


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