About Microsoft’s Equity Equivalent Programme (EEP)
Changing the face of entrepreneurship in South Africa
As a multinational company operating in an environment where our citizens face unique challenges such as unemployment, a large unskilled workforce and poverty every day, being locally relevant is at the core of what we do at Microsoft South Africa.
We see a future where ALL our citizens genuinely participate: a country with decent employment opportunities, in a vibrant economy, that is supported by modern infrastructure and services. A South Africa where everyone has the chance to enjoy a decent quality of life.
On 29 March 2011, Microsoft announced the first beneficiaries of its multi-million rand investment in growing several sustainable, independent and majority black-owned software companies in South Africa over a seven-year period. Soon after, we embarked on selecting additional beneficiaries.
This investment directly addresses several of the key challenges facing the government and South Africa – creating jobs, developing small enterprises, building the local software economy and developing scarce technology skills.
This is a ground-breaking model for enterprise development that identifies small black-owned companies that are doing something unique, and gives them the skills, capacity and business acumen to reach into markets beyond South Africa. It’s an industry-leading approach, and has been recognised as such by government: the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) has approved the programme for seven years.
This new model for entrepreneurship sets new benchmarks for developing talent in the South African technology industry. Through the success of this programme, the market will come to associate broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) with real entrepreneurship, job creation, business and enterprise development and skills enhancement.
We’re also supporting sustainable growth by focusing resources and support for entrepreneurs through the EEP investment, who are the foundation of a smarter and more inclusive economy in South Africa.
Microsoft entered into an Equity Equivalent Programme because, as an internationally held company, it cannot sell shares in its local subsidiaries. With the guidance and approval of the DTI, we decided to embark on a programme to grow companies, create jobs and grow South Africa’s economy.
We believe that South African talent will play a vital role in the development of a sustainable, more inclusive technology industry. That’s why we support students, technologists, innovators and entrepreneurs to realise their full potential.
We focus our time, energy and resources on enabling these software companies to become global technology companies by 2018. Our investment has been fuelling innovation in new high-growth areas currently underserved, including safety and security, healthcare, consumer, mobility and cloud computing. We’re two and a half years into the programme, and our first five companies have already made huge strides in developing new business models, creating jobs, and reaching out to new markets.
Ultimately, the Equity Equivalent Programme will not just increase the size of the local software economy. It will leave a legacy for other entrepreneurs to follow. That, we believe, is true empowerment.