Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has awarded Affordable Access Initiative grants to 12 entrepreneurial businesses in 11 countries to increase the availability of affordable Internet access around the world. Each company will receive seed grants and resources including 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," said Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of business development at Microsoft. "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."
Microsoft's Affordable Access Initiative aims to democratize access to the Internet through grants, commercial partnerships, connecting new leaders and community engagement. Grant recipients are based in Argentina, Botswana, India, Indonesia, Malawi, Nigeria, Philippines, Rwanda, Uganda, the United Kingdom and the United States. In addition to financial support, grant recipients will have access to the following:
A global network connecting social enterprises with peers and mentors to develop and share best practices
Participation in annual summits and monthly virtual touchpoints, alongside ongoing support from Microsoft's Research and Development team
Also, Microsoft Philanthropies will make digital literacy, online safety and computer science education programs available through its global YouthSpark initiative, as well as cloud product donations and training for nonprofits.