The need to connect the next 1 billion people to the internet is growing as many organisations like Facebook and now Microsoft are developing initiatives and strategies to connect under served and developing countries around the world.
Recently,Microsoft launched a fund to improve access to affordable Internet in under-served markets as a part of the company’s Affordable Access Initiative.Under its Affordable Access Initiative, Microsoft partners with Internet access providers and other public and private sector entities on innovative and practical connectivity and services solutions.
Selected companies will receive cash awards along with free technology and mentor-ship from Microsoft to scale solutions that help close the digital divide; application deadline is Jan. 15, 2016.
The fund invests in new last-mile access technologies, cloud-based services and applications, and business models that can reduce the cost of Internet access and help more people get online.
“Today there are approximately 4 billion people globally without Internet access,” said Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of business development at Microsoft.“The ability to close that gap is more achievable than ever with technology that is readily available and affordable in many parts of the world. Through this fund, we hope to kick-start the entrepreneurial process by identifying promising ideas that we can help nurture, grow and scale.”
Applicants 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.
Here is a list of criteria, and how to apply. Applications will be accepted until midnight PST on Jan. 15, 2016.
In addition to receiving on average approximately $75,000 in funding and free software and services, recipients will also have the opportunity to participate in a program offered by Microsoft to connect with other grant recipients and potential funders.