The company kicked off a public Request for Proposal (RFP) process for new firms looking to become part of its multi-million rand Equity Equivalent Programme (EEP), which has already seen five small companies – two of which are female-owned – grow dramatically since the launch of the programme in March 2011. Entries close on 11 October 2013.
The focus areas for the RFP will be in the education, healthcare, consumer, safety and security, mobility, cloud computing, big data and social business sectors, where Microsoft managing director Mteto Nyati believes technology can make a clear difference to current levels of service delivery.
Nyati said the programme is not aimed at providing start-up capital, but rather at turbo-charging the growth of existing companies that have potential. In the process, it will address several of the key challenges facing the country: creating jobs, developing small enterprises, building the local software economy and developing scarce technology skills.
“We’re more than two years into the programme, and our current five companies have already made huge strides in developing new business models, creating jobs, and reaching out to new markets,” said Nyati. “Our investment to date has focused on fuelling innovation in high-growth areas that are currently underserved, including safety and security, healthcare, consumer, mobility and cloud computing.”
One of the original beneficiaries of the programme, Home-Grown Business Integrations, moved from KwaZulu-Natal to Johannesburg to take advantage of new business opportunities generated by its partnership with the EEP.
The company’s Lehalima Utility Management System has helped provide convenient electricity access to houses across the country, and CEO Thaisi Shale’s vision is to be the leading utility management service provider in Africa by 2018. “And we’re not stopping there. We are ready to do even more amazing things and have already started the journey to expand our offerings to the global stage,” said Shale.
iSolv Technologies, which creates solutions around Public Key Infrastructure (PKI),encryption and secure communication, says its partnership with Microsoft has seen it grow into one of the country’s leading ICT security solutions and monitoring suppliers.
“To date, we’ve been able to strengthen our internal infrastructure, increase our developer headcount and invest in a number of key assets,” said iSolv CEO Jayesh Nana.
Maxxor was already established in the mobile gaming market when it joined the programme in 2011, but director Raj Moodaley says the company has since moved into the field of B2B mobile sales apps and B2C mobile commerce solutions.
“We’ve just launched our flagship product into the Microsoft Windows App Store, and we’re setting our sights on new markets such as the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand,” said Moodaley.
The RFP is open to small, black-owned software companies across South Africa with a maximum of 50 employees and a maximum turnover of R15 million a year.
For more information about the programme, its current beneficiaries and how to apply,
companies can go to www.microsofteep.co.za<http://www.microsofteep.co.za> or SMS “Microsoft” to 44269 to check if they are eligible.