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Today’s Top Entrepreneurship and Business Stories (27 July)

Microsoft Announces Partnership With Black-Owned Internet Service Provider, Brightwave Microsoft South Africa announced that it has signed an agreement with Internet Service Provider Brightwave, to bring Wi-Fi and TV white spaces technology based on broadband access to more than 213,000 students at 609 primary and secondary schools, as well as several healthcare clinics in King Sabata Dalindyebo Local Municipality in the Eastern Cape Province. This Brightwave partnership marks progress of closing the digital divide and the commitments Microsoft has made via its Affordable Access Initiative (AAI) program, a holistic, partnership-based programme that invests in internet connectivity, energy access, and IoT (Internet of Things) projects in unserved and underserved communities. The AAI program seeks to support, accelerate, and scale innovative businesses developing technologies that enable local communities to utilize cloud-based services and business models that reduce the cost of Internet and energy access to help more people participate in the digital economy. "Far too many South Africans lack internet connectivity along with the educational, commercial and economic benefits of cloud-based services," says Paul Garnett, Senior Director within Microsoft’s Affordable Access Initiative team. “Through partnerships such as these, we will be able to empower entrepreneurs to provide connectivity to many more people and consequently, enable the creation of critical services for many more South Africans who need it most." This strategic partnership with Brightwave will enable cloud consumption and digital transformation solutions in Health, Education, Public Safety and National security. The Brightwave deployment is being co-funded by Microsoft and Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa (USAASA). The partnership also allows Brightwave to leverage the Microsoft partnership to sell Internet access, devices, as well as cloud-based services such as Office 365 to government offices, small businesses, and consumers. "We are super excited about our new partnership with Microsoft, as this enables Brightwave to offer an integrated services value proposition that will power eLearning, eHealth, eGovernment, and eCommerce in rural and underserved communities in South Africa,” says Mr. Charles Mwaura CEO of Brightwave. Brightwave is a certified Black-Owned Enterprise that provides broadband Internet access in the sprawling underserved peri-urban community of Soweto in South Africa. The ISP has successfully deployed and commercialised the largest Wi-Fi network in a predominantly disadvantaged community in South Africa, through offering data bundles at a tenth of market prices by leveraging an Ad-driven "freemium" model. Tourism Month Launched With Plea To Help Boost SA Economy The Chief Executive Officer of Tourism SA, Sisa Ntshona on Wednesday evening called on all South Africans to promote tourism to help improve the local economy. “The #Idotourism and #Wedotourism [campaign] is a movement and call to action for all South Africans, we all have a role to play in tourism," Ntshona said during the launch of Tourism month at Dunkeld Country Estate in Mpumalanga. The CEO said that Tourism Month was about showcasing different provinces and that the aim was profiling and elevating the status of tourism. "We are in a tight economic environment, tourism is one of the sectors we believe can pull us out of this place." Ntshona urged South Africans from each province to find what was unique about their region and how they could contribute to tourism and not replicate other provinces. "Its about general patriotism and hospitality, how we are to guests coming because the more hospitable we are, the better it is for our economy." The evening was vibrant and colourful, with a program filled with local entertainment. Earlier the MEC of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism of Mpumalanga, Sikhumbuzo Kholwane, said the province was focused on tourism despite the low budget that was allocated towards it. "The role of municipalities is critical in dealing with the matters of tourism." He added that a working arrangement would be organised between the province’s neighbouring countries Mozambique and Swaziland to boost tourism. Minister of Tourism Thokozile Xasa was a guest speaker at the event and said the government and the private sector had to come together to promote aspects of the country that would draw tourists and assist economic growth. "We need to tell more good stories of our country and tourism presents that opportunity," she said. Xasa added South Africans needed to travel the country in order for them to appreciate it. "By traveling the country each of us can leave a financial foot print where we visit, that’s how we leave money in these places," the minister said. healthymagination Mother and Child Programme Welcomes its Second Cohort of Social Entrepreneurs Addressing Maternal & Child Health in Sub-Saharan Africa Yesterday, the healthymagination Mother and Child programme announced its second cohort of social enterprises that will receive training and mentorship aimed at improving and accelerating maternal and/or child health outcomes in Africa. The program – launched in March 2016 by GE and Santa Clara University’s Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship – aims to continue to accelerate health innovations in Sub-Saharan Africa. After a rigorous application and evaluation process, 14 organizations were selected to be in the programme’s second cohort of social entrepreneurs and accelerate maternal health outcomes across Africa with impact areas including, Benin, Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe and more. The second cohort of entrepreneurs are currently attending a three-day, in-person workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa. The program is designed to help the organisations acquire business fundamentals, improve their strategic thought processes, and articulate business plans that demonstrate impact, growth and long-term financial sustainability. "Solving local health challenges calls for locally-adapted interventions and innovations, and social entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa are playing a major role in this regard," said Robert Wells, executive director of healthymagination. "The healthymagination Mother and Child programme will continue to provide them with mentorship and in-depth training, accelerating health innovation and furthering our goal to increase the quality, access and affordability of maternal and child health.” "GE’s mission to work on better health for more people is evidenced by our continuing partnership to help social enterprises scale their impact," commented Thane Kreiner, Ph.D., executive director of Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship. "This cohort’s impact aligns with the target indicators for United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #3. Miller Center is honored such amazing social enterprises applied to this Mother and Child accelerator program." The kick-off workshop will be followed by a six-month, online accelerator programme with in-depth mentorship from Silicon Valley-based executives and local GE business leaders. The accelerator and mentorship programme will culminate in a “Premier Pitch” event in Africa where the 14 organizations will present their respective enterprises to an audience of potential investors. The 14 social enterprises that have been selected for the second cohort of the healthymagination Mother and Child Programme are: Afya Research Africa – STONE HMIS®, Cedars Diagnostics, doctHERs, Early Reach, Liberian Energy Network, Maternity Foundation, MDaaS, MOBicure, Neopenda, Sevamob, Sisu Global Health, Southlake Medical Centre - under LiveWell, SubQ Assist and Totohealth Tanzania. For more information on the programme, please visit www.SCU-social-entrepreneurship.org/mother-and-child.

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