Two separate news announcements out today involving Startup Weekend and Microsoft’s BizSpark program could help jumpstart entrepreneurial activities throughout the developing world, from sub-Saharan Africa to Mongolia to Palestine.
Startup Weekend, the Seattle non-profit that hosted more than 250 geek hackathons in 65 countries last year, today announced a partnership with Mercy Corps to expand the 54-hour company-building events. As part of the partnership with Mercy Corps — a non-profit relief agency that operates in 41 countries — future events will be held in Kashmir, Mongolia and the Palestinian Territories.
“As we examine new ways to increase economic opportunities for youth in developing countries, it has been helpful to tap into Startup Weekend’s global network of experts in technology entrepreneurship,” said Neal Keny-Guyer, CEO of Mercy Corps, in a statement. “Mercy Corps already works closely with communities in many of the countries where Startup Weekend is expanding, so it makes sense for us to team up.”
Separately, at the World Economic Forum on Africa today, Microsoft said it would work in conjunction with the U.S. Department of State’s new LIONS@FRICA partnership. The goal of the program, which also includes the involvement the U.S. Agency for International Development, African Development Bank, Nokia, infoDev and DEMO, is to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in Africa. As part of the program, the first DEMO event in Africa will take place October 24-26 in Nairobi, Kenya.
Claire Lee, head of industry partnerships at Microsoft, said that they looking forward to working with the next-generation of African entrepreneurs. “Microsoft supports entrepreneurs globally through the BizSpark program and our network of Microsoft Innovation Centers and has a long-standing partnership with DEMO, Startup Weekend and Global Entrepreneurship Week,” she said.