New Delhi4: Microsoft Corp. announced it has awarded Affordable Access Initiative grants to 12 entrepreneurial businesses globally, including AirJaldi and Zaya Learning Labs in India to help scale their solutions and business models to increase affordable Internet access in communities around the world. Each company will receive seed grants, and resources including BizSpark tools such as free software, services and technology support to help extend the reach of their hardware, applications, connectivity and power solutions. Here in India, the grant received by AirJaldi and Zaya Learning Labs will enable them to use the resources to address rural connectivity and make world class education accessible by investing in Machine learning and offer more personalized learning solutions to students, respectively.
Michael Ginguld, Director of Strategy and Operations, AirJaldi said, “We are proud to be part of Microsoft’s Affordable Access Initiative. We’ll use the grant to build a network in rural Maharashtra proving hybrid TVWS/WiFi networks’ ability to overcome obstacles to connectivity. We’ll enable telemedicine, education, finance and nature preservation applications, all becoming an integral part of a commercially viable network.”
Neil Dsouza, CEO & Founder, Zaya Learning Labs added, “Microsoft’s partnership will help us improve and scale up our ClassCloud product which will make world class education accessible and affordable to millions of students. Beyond the financial support, we will be able to use some of the Cloud Services offered to us to invest in Machine learning and offer more personalized learning solutions to students who don’t have the opportunity to learn from a great teacher.”
Today’s news marks progress on the commitments Microsoft made earlier this year to invest $1 billion to bring the power of cloud technology to serve the public good, including through expanding the availability of affordable broadband services, new commercial partnerships and expanded philanthropic programs.
“With more than half of the world’s population lacking access to the Internet, connectivity is a global challenge that demands creative problem solving,” said Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of business development at Microsoft. “By using technology that’s available now and partnering with local entrepreneurs who understand the needs of their communities, our hope is to create sustainable solutions that will not only have impact today but also in the years to come.”
Microsoft’s Affordable Access Initiative aims to democratize access to the Internet through grants, commercial partnerships, connecting new leaders and community engagement. Grant recipients are already addressing a range of challenges that take advantage of last-mile access technologies such as TV white spaces, and their business models also demonstrate the ability to scale up and be market-sustained. Grant recipients are based across five continents in 11 countries: Argentina, Botswana, India, Indonesia, Malawi, Nigeria, Philippines, Rwanda, Uganda, the United Kingdom and the United States. In addition to financial support, grant recipients will have access to the following:
• A global network connecting social enterprises with peers and mentors to develop and share best practices.
• Participation in annual immersive summits and monthly virtual touch points, alongside ongoing support from Microsoft’s Research and Development team.
To further empower people and organization in communities benefitting from the Affordable Access Initiative, Microsoft Philanthropies will make digital literacy, online safety and computer science education programs from available through its global YouthSpark initiative, as well as cloud product donations and training for nonprofits.
You can learn more about their solutions and Microsoft’s commitment to affordable access at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/affordable-access-initiative/home.
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