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Microsoft grants support solutions to affordable Internet access

This information provided by Smart Cities Council Compassionate Cities.

This is the second year Council Lead Partner Microsoft is using its Affordable Access Initiative grant fund to support companies with solutions that boost affordable
Internet access in underserved markets, economically disadvantaged communities and rural areas.

The first round of investments saw 12 businesses receiving grants to businesses offering affordable internet access or cloud-based services in fields such as power generation, health, education, finance and agriculture. Among them:

  • African Renewable Energy Distributor (ARED) powers connectivity through stable, reliable energy solutions. In the heart of Kigali, Rwanda’s Nyabugogo market, ARED franchisees provide Mobile Solar Kiosks for phone charging, airtime, mobile money, content storage and data connection. ARED also fosters gender equality and entrepreneurship by requiring at least 30% of franchisees to be women.
  • Zaya Learning Labs is increasing access to quality education and broadband Internet for rural schools in India. To lower the cost of high-bandwidth learning content, Zaya is developing a configurable, plug-n-play ClassCloud solution using advanced analytics, deployment infrastructure, and Windows and Android app integration.
  • Tambero.com is an Argentina-based cloud app that helps worldwide farmers manage their animals. With a vision for increased data-driven production, Tambero is developing a mobile platform chatbot using artificial intelligence and machine learning to enable farmers to communicate with their animals and receive alerts and recommendations.

Empowering entrepreneurs
"Too many people around the world lack Internet connectivity and the educational, commercial and economic benefits of cloud-based services,” said Mary Snapp, corporate vice president and head of Microsoft Philanthropies. "Affordable Access Initiative grants, and the technology ecosystems they help support, empower entrepreneurs to provide connectivity, which then enables the creation of critical services for those who need it most."

Applicants for grants must be commercial organizations with two or more full-time employees and have a prototype of a working solution and preferably paying customers. Such products and business models might combine new cloud services and applications, low-cost forms of Internet connectivity, and new payment mechanisms designed for consumers and smaller businesses in underserved markets.

Application deadline is midnight PST on Jan. 31, 2017. Get details here.

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This is an article is from the Council's Compassionate Cities initiative which highlights how city leaders and other stakeholders can leverage smart technologies to end suffering in their communities and give all citizens a route out of poverty. Click the Compassionate Cities box on our registration page to receive our weekly newsletter.

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