Microsoft Corporation has made a substantial commitment to empower ten million small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by 2025. This initiative was unveiled by Lillian Barnard, President of Microsoft Africa, during a press conference held in Lagos, where Microsoft announced a strategic five-year partnership with Flutterwave.
Microsoft’s vision is to provide SMEs with vital tools, infrastructure, and scaling support, facilitating their growth and fostering strategic collaboration. Lillian Barnard highlighted the importance of technology’s transformative power in accelerating economic growth in Africa. She emphasized the significance of SMEs gaining access to digital financial tools and services, enabling their success and contributing to vibrant local businesses and stronger economies.
In addition, Barnard noted that fintech companies are instrumental in assisting SMEs and the informal sector, which play a significant role in employment by generating seven out of ten jobs in the country and contributing approximately 40 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of any economy.
A major challenge faced by SMEs and startups is their limited access to financial services and their inability to engage in seamless transactions using local payment methods. While around 90 percent of transactions in Africa are still conducted in cash, up to half of small businesses lack access to credit.
Ola Williams, Country Manager of Microsoft Nigeria, underlined the importance of digital financial inclusion to foster sustainable growth in Nigeria. Providing small businesses with digital financial services is the first step toward building a more resilient and prosperous country and continent.
The strategic partnership between Microsoft and payment technology company Flutterwave, leveraging Microsoft Azure, is aimed at accelerating payment innovation in Africa and supporting the growth of small businesses across the continent.
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) play a pivotal role in Africa’s development, employing approximately 90 percent of the population and driving innovation to address societal challenges. Despite their significance, SMEs face substantial obstacles, including limited access to financial services and challenges in conducting seamless transactions using local payment methods. The prevalence of cash-based transactions remains high, with 90 percent of transactions relying on physical currency, and half of small businesses still lack access to credit. These challenges underscore the need for innovative solutions to empower and uplift SMEs in Africa.