Through its Affordable Access Initiative, Microsoft has been on a mission to provide small businesses in developing countries with the tools to supply affordable internet access in their respective countries – setting aside $1 billion earlier this year to do just that.

But to actively bring the internet to more people, small businesses need a financial push, which is why Microsoft recently awarded more grants to companies in Uganda, Rwanda, Malawi and Nigeria.

The Affordable Access Initiative grants were given to 12 small businesses across the globe, including Africa, “to help scale their solutions and business models to increase affordable Internet access in communities around the world,” it said in a media statement.

Microsoft explained that each small business will get access to seed grants and can make use of Microsoft’s BizSpark tools such as free software, services and technology support to help extend the reach of their hardware, applications, connectivity and power solutions.

“With more than half of the world’s population lacking access to the Internet, connectivity is a global challenge that demands creative problem solving. By using technology that’s available now and partnering with local entrepreneurs who understand the needs of their communities, our hope is to create sustainable solutions that will not only have impact today but also in the years to come,” said Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of business development at Microsoft.

While the individual amounts weren’t disclosed, Affordable Access Initiative grant were given to:

Power Solutions

  • African Renewable Energy Distributor (Rwanda)
  • New Sun Road (Uganda)

Hardware Solutions

  • Zaya Learning Labs (India)

Connectivity Solutions

  • AirJaldi (India)
  • Axiom Technologies (United States)
  • C3: Communications Consulting Centre (Malawi)
  • Ekovolt (Nigeria)
  • Wi-Fi Interactive Network (Philippines)

Application Solutions

  • Kelase (Indonesia)
  • Movivo (United Kingdom)
  • Tambero.com (Argentina)
  • VistaBotswana (Botswana)

“Grant recipients are already addressing a range of challenges that take advantage of last-mile access technologies such as TV white spaces, and their business models also demonstrate the ability to scale up and be market-sustained,” Microsoft concluded.

[Image – CC by 2.0/LvE]
Charlie started his professional life as a motoring journalist for a community newspaper in Mpumalanga, Charlie explored different journalistic angles since his entry into the fast-paced world of publishing in 2006. While fostering a passion for the arts, Charlie developed a love for technology – both which allowed him to serve as Entertainment and Technology Editor for an online publication. Charlie has since been heavily involved in consumer technology for various websites and publications. He thoroughly enjoys World War II films and cerebral documentaries; aviation; photography and indie music. Oh yes, and he also has a rather strange obsession with collecting coffee mugs from his travels.