Intending to help deepen the reach of entrepreneurs and start-ups that are focused on social impact and sustainability, the joint initiative by Microsoft and Accenture aims to provide hands-on support and technologies to social enterprises, helping them build scalable solutions and business models that can lead to more tangible and lasting benefits.

Microsoft and Accenture’s collaboration is part of their shared vision to democratise access to impactful technology. Through the programme, Microsoft Research India and Accenture Labs will help social enterprise startups test and validate proof-of-concepts, conduct design thinking sessions to help them re-envision the impact of their solutions, and provide support in exploring and using Microsoft technologies.

With a particular focus on the areas of agriculture, education and healthcare, the programme will initially engage with startups in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, leveraging the MSR India Centre for Societal impact through cloud and AI.

Jean-Philippe Courtois, Executive Vice President and President, Microsoft Global Sales, Marketing and Operations said startups in the social impact and sustainability space are among the world’s most inspiring organisations. “It is important that their passion for meaningful innovation and creating positive change is supported. Microsoft’s collaboration with Accenture offers an opportunity to empower these startups so they can use technology to make an even greater impact in addressing many of the world’s most pressing challenges,” he said in a statement.

Paul Daugherty, Group Chief Executive, Accenture Technology and Chief Technology Officer at Accenture said experience has shown that by applying emerging technologies to critical challenges facing society, social transformation can be accelerated.

“This collaboration is a great illustration of delivering on 'values', creating tangible business and social value while aligning with people’s values. By providing social impact entrepreneurs with direct access to the combined power of Accenture and Microsoft’s technology expertise, we can help improve access, equality, education, inclusion, health, sustainability, and the environment,” he added.