Empowering Local Startups to help Bridge the Digital Divide


At the start of this year, Microsoft made a commitment to using the power of cloud technology for public good. In its latest efforts, Microsoft has awarded Affordable Access Initiative grants to four entrepreneurial businesses in Asia Pacific, out of 12 partners globally. The Microsoft Affordable Access Initiative aims to democratise Internet access, and these four companies have pledged to help extend connectivity in their communities. To aid their efforts, they will receive seed grants and a range of resources including Microsoft BizSpark tools comprising free software, services, and technology support.

 

Let’s take a look at the four companies and how they intend to use the Microsoft Grant to close the connectivity gap in their respective communities.

 

 

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Zaya Learning Labs, India

Zaya Learning Labs believes that quality education is key to bridging the achievement gap for students in low-income schools in India. With its plug-n-play ClassCloud solution, an educational micro-cloud that brings an online learning experience with world-class content to virtually any classroom, the education startup hopes to improve access to quality education for underprivileged schools through affordable technology.

According to Neil Dsouza, Chief Executive Officer at Zaya Learning Labs, it will be using the grant to improve and scale up ClassCloud—making world-class education even more accessible and affordable for students. It also hopes to be able to leverage Microsoft cloud services to invest in machine learning, and enable a more personalised learning experience for students without teachers.

 

 

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AirJaldi, India

Like water and electricity, AirJaldi regard Internet access as a commodity, not a luxury. Building on this belief, the social enterprise aims to provide broadband connectivity to rural areas in India. AirJaldi currently provides connectivity to over 100,000 civil society and private sector clients.

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AirJaldi teaching children about networks

 

Michael Ginguld, Director of Strategy and Operations, AirJaldi, says that it plans to build a network in rural Maharashtra with the grant. By connecting the region and facilitating a range of services such as telemedicine, remote education, and online banking, and e-government, AirJaldi hopes to improve the quality of life for these previously unconnected communities.

 

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WiFi Interative Network, Philippines

Philippines-based startup WiFi Interactive Network (WIN) provides Internet access by leveraging TV Whitespace (TVWS) technology to anchor the connectivity of its sponsored WiFi hotspots, the first of its kind in Asia. Its aim for the year is to install base stations that will broadcast WiFI signals to areas where there is no Internet coverage.

Thanks to the grant, WIN is set to install 10,000 WiFi hotspots across the country. According to Philip Zulueta, President and Founder, WIN, the partnership with Microsoft helps bring connectivity through TVWS technology to areas where telecommunication companies have coverage gap, and it plans to do so at a price point accessible to the masses.

 

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Kelase, Indonesia

As a digital learning solutions provider, Kelase understands the important role of technology in improving literacy and quality of learning. Cited as the Indonesia’s Yammer for education, it offers a suite of online education services that enables collaboration, not just between teachers and students within a school, but also between teachers from various education institutions through its education communities.

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Students in Indonesia using technology to learn

 

Chief Executive Officer Brimy Laksmana says that Kelase intends to use the Microsoft grant to continue innovating and drive affordable technologies and digital learning services and content to more schools, teachers, students, and parents—and ultimately improve the quality of education.

We are glad to work together with these companies toward the common goal of bridging the connectivity gap. Here’s to a more connected future!

 

Visit this website to learn more about the Microsoft Affordable Access Initiative.

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