Microsoft’s women in cloud accelerator comes to SA

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Charlotte Yarkoni, corporate VP for cloud and artificial intelligence at Microsoft.
Charlotte Yarkoni, corporate VP for cloud and artificial intelligence at Microsoft.

Software giant Microsoft has announced plans to extend its Women in Cloud: Microsoft Cloud Accelerator Programme (WIC:MCAP) to eight additional countries, including South Africa.

Microsoft says it has partnered with Ideagen and Women in Cloud to ensure it is extended to Canada, France, Germany, India, Kenya, South Africa, the UAE and the UK, although details as to when the programme will reach SA are limited.

Established two years ago, Women in Cloud is a community-led initiative supporting female technology entrepreneurs via private-public partnerships with innovative companies and leaders in tech. It creates access to partnership opportunities and programmes that accelerate business growth in the cloud.

Within the Women in Cloud community is WIC: MCAP, which is an immersive six-month programme designed to help women-led companies start and build their businesses through Microsoft and its cloud distribution channels.

Charlotte Yarkoni, corporate VP for cloud and artificial intelligence at Microsoft, says the programme will also expand within the US with a cohort in New York City launching September 2019 with another to launch in Chicago later in fall 2019.

“This scale will provide women-owned technology companies all around the world with access to the cloud, mentorship, networking communities and resources to bring women-led innovations to market.”

Microsoft’s announcement comes as South Africa is witnessing increased activity in its cloud market, with Azure having been recently made available, the newly introduced Huawei Cloud service and the imminent launch of Amazon Web Services.

Soon after Microsoft unveiled two Azure data centres, one in Johannesburg and another in Cape Town, JSE-listed Altron announced it has migrated its human resource information systems and payroll to Azure.

Industry experts have lauded the cloud activity, saying South African businesses are now quickly ramping up cloud adoption.

An IDC study titled: “Economic Impact of IT and Microsoft in SA”, commissioned by Microsoft, estimates that SA’s cloud ecosystem will create around 112 000 new jobs in the country by 2020.

Yarkoni states: “Through a multi-million-dollar, multi-year investment from Microsoft, it is our goal that with this expansion and continued scaling, this programme can help generate $1 billion in cloud opportunity by providing accessible cloud technology to more than 1 000 women-led tech companies over the investment period, enabling them to scale their businesses for sustainable economic growth in all corners of the world.”

To date, Microsoft says the women-centric cloud accelerator has provided opportunities to 30 women-owned companies and developed more than $30 million of cloud pipeline at its start.

“As a woman and a leader at Microsoft, I’m proud of these initiatives, many of which have been established and are supported by women leaders within our organisation. I am encouraged by our continued commitment to providing inspiration and mentorship for both women in tech and those just starting to develop interest in the industry,” Yarkoni concludes.

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