IT giant to invest in local black companies

2010-04-24 08:36

UP to 10 small, majority ­black-owned software development

companies will have an ­opportunity to come under ­Microsoft’s wing.

From July this year, Microsoft plans to invest R472 million in

these companies in an effort to get them globally ­competitive by 2017.

Microsoft SA managing director Mteto Nyati said: “It wouldn’t be

sustainable to have too many ­companies. We decided to invest in and focus on a

handful of niche ­companies that have the potential to grow.” He said that from

early next month they would issue a request for proposals from interested

­companies across the country.

“The companies must be small, with a maximum of 30 employees. They

must have a good business model, quality leadership and a turnover of less then

R1 million a year,” he said.

Nyati said that they hoped the ­investment would help create job

­opportunities for unemployed ­software and IT graduates.

“We will invest heavily in ­infrastructure and management systems.

The selected companies will be given the latest IT ­equipment and will also move

to better locations if necessary,” Nyati said.

The deal has received some ­support from the local industry.

Steven Ambrose, managing ­director of World Wide Worx ­Strategy,

said: “If the mentoring and management training of the ­selected applicants is

well ­managed, we could see the ­emergence of a whole new breed of entrepreneurs

in the software ­industry in South Africa.

“The sheer amount of the ­investment, coupled with the low initial

capital requirements of most aspirant developers, could ­encourage the emergence

of the next ­Google from our own shores.”

Ambrose’s optimism is backed by his research firm’s forecast that

the internet would double from the ­current 5.3 million users to ­10 million

during the next three years.

Nyati said the investment could address some of the key challenges

facing the country if the developers created software solutions to ­address

needs in the health and ­education sectors.

In a addition to the money ­Microsoft is investing, the ­company

plans to spend time ­mentoring the small companies.

Nyati said: “We are creating ­future ­partnerships, not

­competition. We will use some of the solutions developed by these companies on

our platform.”



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