Microsoft makes online business tools free for South African SMEs

Microsoft makes online business tools free for South African SMEs

Summary: Biz4Afrika is offering email, hosting and collaboration tools through the online hub for entrepreneurs in South Africa.

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Microsoft South Africa has launched an online hub offering free access to email, web hosting and collaboration tools for established businesses and startups alike.

The hub, dubbed Biz4Afrika, will be financed through the company's 4Afrika fund and is described as a partnership between Microsoft, the State Information Technology Agency (SITA), the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA), the National Small Business Chamber (NSBC) and mobile operator Vodacom.

Access to the hub services is free for the first year, although tariffs for renewal at the end of that period haven't been set yet. As well as free access to Microsoft services, companies will be able to sign up for discounted offers from other suppliers through the same portal, including IT support, banking, accountancy and legal advice, as well as access to an online lead generation network.

Microsoft COO Kevin Turner was in Johannesburg for the launch and said that the 4Afrika project as the second largest investment the company has made in a single region.

Turner quoted a recent Boston Consulting Group report as showing that companies which adopt technology grow faster and create more jobs than companies which don't. Job creation is a key policy objective for central government, as South Africa's unemployment rate remains high, at 24.7 percent, and official figures for the 15 to 24 year age range are 31.4 percent.

Turner said that while other firms and government agencies had tried similar programs to get small businesses online, the key difference for the Microsoft initiative is that it will be funding an internship position for a business advisor in each of SEDA's 43 regional offices, who will be able to advise SMEs about how to integrate basic technology into their business.

Biz4Afrika is only available to South African companies at the moment, but will be expanded to other countries soon.

Further reading

Topics: Enterprise Software, Collaboration, Microsoft, SMBs

Adam Oxford

About Adam Oxford

Adam Oxford is the editor-in-chief of htxt.co.za, a South African tech blog that covers issues from around the country and the continent beyond. Based in Johannesburg but originally from the UK, he's written for most of the major technology publishers over the last 17 years, covering everything from PC gaming to photography to Linux to open data and emerging tech markets.

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4 comments
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  • Microsoft = a real evil according to facts

    please people, don't support Microsoft responsible for trillions dollars in corruption, keeping just facts:


    "
    Microsoft's dirty game - rough harassment of the independent journalist trying to uncover the real Windows world!

    Do you know how does Microsoft earn money? Through a bribery in Slovakia, Czech republic, Hungary, ..... How much money does Microsoft have in governments' contracts all around the world??
    Microsoft bribery probe enters Russia, Pakistan.
    And some another corruption and bribing.
    Again another bribing in Italy, Romania, China.

    Because of corruption in Slovakia (by Microsoft) you can not pay taxes without Windows!

    And this is GREAT! example how Microsoft lies lies lies to push Windows in every government (Munich, Germany).
    And here is the response of Munich proving Microsoft is just a liar and briber. Beautiful example how Microsoft is taking control over governments.....fortunately unsuccessful in this particular case.

    BEWARE OF Microsoft! trying to bribe US officials to go after Google because Microsoft is not able to compete anymore: "Supposedly Penn has been going around Washington trying to recruit consultants, telling them that Microsoft has armed him with a 50 million budget to go after Google."

    Greedy Microsoft - Because of the trust Apple+Microsoft+Adobe you have to pay more for IT in Australia!!

    Microsoft earns probably more money from Android with blackmailing Android producers through ridiculous patents than from his mobile operating system Windows Phone.

    Microsoft bribes Best Buy staff to slam Mac and Linux.
    "
    anywherehome
  • misleading title - not free

    It is a classic bait'n'switch - free for first year ...

    Also, isn't it an anti-competitive tactic ? It is not even restricted to schools/non-profits or govt.
    GrabBoyd
    • Fine Detail

      After reading article after article about this I too realized that the headings are quite misleading. It sounds like the tools will be free for ever!

      In that case I would rather pay R229.00 pm for 24 months for a professional 5 page website that really has free hosting, email, support and much more.
      HostingtalkSA
  • People...your paranoia is showing.

    You all need to take a deep breath, grab a cup of tea and have a sit down for a while.

    Microsoft have said, up front, that it is 'free for the first year'. They didn't just say that it was 'free' ?

    Personally I wouldn't sign up until they announce what the charges will be for continuing to use the service after the first year but they did tell you it was only 'free for the first year'.

    If you don't want it don't sign up. Easy.

    @Anywherehome come and lay on my couch and tell me, how long have you hated your computer? :)
    Gary O'Connor