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Staff Writer | 12 September 2023

Microsoft South Africa has embarked on a skills development training programme to train 2 000 local small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) in artificial intelligence (AI) skills.

According to a statement, the tech giant will equip SMMEs for an AI-powered future, setting them on a trajectory of sustainable growth through the Microsoft for Start-ups Founders Hub, which provides entrepreneurs with free technology resources.

The programme particularly targets SMMEs specialising in developing smart solutions for government departments.

As AI increasingly helps businesses across the globe to evolve, Microsoft says its initiative looks to pave the way for a more inclusive future and help position Africa’s SMME sector at the forefront of global digital transformation.

The first training sessions were recently delivered in Durban, in the lead-up to the GovTech 2023 conference, taking place from 12 to 14 September. The workshops leveraged the low-code capabilities of the Microsoft Power Platform, to help SMMEs build solutions and applications that are fuelled by data and AI.

“Through this initiative, we want to help equip SMMEs with the skills and understanding they need to develop and provide AI-driven solutions that empower government to not only modernise processes, but also improve decision-making and unlock efficiencies and cost savings,” notes Lerato Mathabatha, public sector director at Microsoft South Africa.

The Microsoft Founders Hub was launched in Africa in 2021, to provide entrepreneurs with access to a self-service hub that delivers a range of resources, including tools like Microsoft Azure, GitHub and Microsoft 365. It also assists SMMEs with go-to-market and business support.

The hub currently offers support for 1 000 African start-ups, according to Microsoft.

The Microsoft Work Trend Index highlights the potential of AI not only as a technological tool, but as an enabler of business efficiency and innovation.

“We recognise that training is not a once-off activity. Post this training at GovTech, we will continue to provide SMMEs with access to resources through the Founders Hub. Making AI technologies and skills accessible to SMMEs is an important step forward if we want to drive a more digitally-inclusive, and active business landscape in South Africa,” says Mathabatha.

‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’.


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