Microsoft Launches Affordable Access Initiative to Fund Startups

Affordable Internet Initiative Fund
Satya Nadella visits a high school in Kenya that has Internet service provide by TV White Spaces.
Satya Nadella visits a high school in Kenya that has Internet service provide by TV White Spaces.
Satya Nadella visits a high school in Kenya that has Internet service provide by TV White Spaces.

In continuing with their new mission of “Empowering Everyone in the World to Achieve More”, Microsoft today announced a new fund that will empower startups and companies with solutions that bring affordable Internet aces to under-served areas. The fund is part of Microsoft’s Affordable Access Initiative, which invests in new last-mile access technologies, cloud-based services and applications, and business models that can reduce the cost of Internet access and help more people affordably get online.

During Satya Nadella’s short visit to Kenya for the launch of Window 10, he witnessed firsthand, the impact of affordable Internet access in transforming lives residents in remote access.

“Today there are approximately 4 billion people globally without Internet access. The ability to close that gap is more achievable than ever with technology that is readily available and affordable in many parts of the world. Through this fund, we hope to kick-start the entrepreneurial process by identifying promising ideas that we can help nurture, grow and scale.” Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of business development, Microsoft

From Microsoft’s Press Release

Under its Affordable Access Initiative, Microsoft partners with Internet access providers and other public and private sector entities on innovative and practical connectivity and services solutions designed to deliver the greatest socio-economic impact to the greatest number of people. Examples of other efforts underway include these:

  • Microsoft’s deployment of TV white spaces technology, which repurposes TV frequencies not being used locally to provide affordable, robust Internet access to entire communities. With its partners, Microsoft is currently deploying the technology in 17 countries and five continents.
  • Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative, a multiyear initiative through which Microsoft is actively engaging in Africa’s economic development to improve its global competitiveness through locally relevant innovation, affordable access and skills development. Applicants must be commercial organizations with two or more full-time employees and have a prototype of a working solution and preferably paying customers. Such products and business models might combine new cloud services and applications, low-cost forms of Internet connectivity, and new payment mechanisms designed for consumers and smaller businesses in underserved markets. A list of criteria, and the application, can be found at Applications will be accepted until midnight PST on Jan. 15, 2016. Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, and its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.
  • In addition to receiving on average approximately $75,000 in funding and free software and services, recipients will also have the opportunity to participate in a program offered by Microsoft to connect with other grant recipients and potential funders.

Eligibility Criteria For Funding

Your solution must:

  • Leverage low-cost forms of Internet connectivity
  • Demonstrate innovative approaches to selling cloud services geared for under-served markets
  • Integrate localized payment platforms and consumption models designed for customers in relevant markets

Applicants must:

  • Be a commercial organization with two or more full-time employees (we will not accept applications from non-profits, government agencies, or academic institutions)
  • Have a working solution
  • Prove potential to scale to new markets and leverage partner distribution models
  • Provide valid copies of licenses and authorizations
  • Present a business plan free of legal and regulatory impediments

Proposals are due By 11:59 P.M. Pacific Time, January 15, 2016. Applicants can apply here.

Lean more at the Affordable Access Initiative Fund Website.

Press Release Source: Microsoft