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Microsoft eyes small businesses

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 11 – Small and Medium sized businesses now have the chance to purchase genuine software which should help them to maximise productivity and profitability in their firms.

This follows the launch of a financing option dubbed ‘Get into the program’ by Microsoft East Africa, Software Distributors Africa Limited (SADL) and Micro Africa, which is a micro finance institution, that would enable customers to buy software worth between Sh200,000 and Sh1 million.

“The pricing model will give the customers the option to pay the money over a maximum of 12 months with no interest charged,” explained Microsoft Segment Manager for Small and Mid-market solutions Ian Joule.

He added that the financing cost would be borne by the three partners which would effectively mean that the product would be cheaper than one bought from the retailers.

Mr Joule said the deal was part of their wider objective to make technology and use of innovative solutions more accessible to people in the lower end of the society.

“The process will entail SADL recommending customers to Micro Africa to access the financing option for the acquisition of software licenses. Clients qualifying for the option will then be served by SADL within three days from the date of payment by Micro Africa,” he explained.

SADL Managing Director Clinton Fernandes pointed out that the drive was also expected to curb software piracy and help bring down the levels. It is estimated that piracy levels in Kenya are about 80 percent and 85 percent for the rest of the East Africa region.

A study in the 12 African countries where Microsoft has been operating in has revealed that the company loses (as direct revenues) approximately $200 million to the illegal software market ever year.

High piracy levels in emerging markets have been blamed on the high products’ costs and this has in the past prompted Microsoft to resort to a price reduction to enable customers’ access legitimate products.

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“The collaboration in facilitating for the financing option is projected to enhance the usage of genuine software solutions and ease pressure on small businesses in need of innovative licensed Microsoft software,” Mr Fernandes said.

While welcoming the move by the three companies, Kenya Copyright Board Executive Director Marisella Ouma reiterated the government’s commitment to curb copyright infringement by sharing knowledge with the public and the business community.

“Collectively, we are increasing the amount of product availability in emerging markets, expanding the numbers of resellers and improving the in-store experience for consumers with compelling ways of showcasing the benefits of using genuine (software) products,” she added.

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