Microsoft & Village Capital's Affordable Access 2017 Venture Forum

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Microsoft Campus Microsoft Way Redmond, WA 98052

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We are pleased to announce that Village Capital, in partnership with Microsoft's Affordable Access Initiative will be showcasing 10 ventures from around the world applying innovative solutions to bridging the digital divide.

Please join us on Thursday, September 28th for an exciting opportunity to meet face-to-face with emerging entrepreneurs solving the most difficult problems in access to internet, as well as other investors and mentors in the industry.

The Venture Forum will feature pitches from the 10 grant winners from Microsoft's Affordable Access Initiative, and will include an audience of investors, mentors, potential customers, and members of the senior leadership team at Microsoft. The Venture Forum will be followed by a reception for all attendees.

Additional information about the selected 10 ventures is provided below and additional information about the Affordable Access Initiative and grant winners can be found on the AAI website.

Event Details


Registration (2:30 PM)

Welcome and Keynote Speaker (2:45 PM)

Cohort Introduction (3:00 PM)

Venture Pitches (3:00 PM)

Reception (5:00 - 6:30)


Microsoft Campus - Redmond Washington

Specific venue Information to Follow

Meet the Microsoft Affordable Access Ventures!

  • Electric Vine Industries - Indonesia: Electric Vine (EVI) is a private microgrid developer that brings sustainable, pre-paid, and smart-metered energy access and income generation opportunities to unelectrified households throughout Southeast Asia. EVI’s solution is integrated into local Indonesian payment and messaging gateways. EVI’s grant will focus on refining its software, devices, and Internet services to advance local communities in Indonesia.

  • Kukua Weather Services - Pan Africa: Kukua is a social enterprise that aims to close Africa’s weather information gap, and in turn, help farmers improve their crop yields. Kukua endeavors to be the primary source of accurate, hyper-local weather information across the continent. Kukua has developed a solar-powered weather station based on DAVIS sensors and “Internet of Things” (IoT) technology. Kukua uploads local weather data via data SMS to the cloud every 15 minutes for collation and analyses, thereby building local weather maps at a fraction of the cost of normal weather stations. Kukua’s grant will be used to conduct an impact study in Uganda, and further develop its apps, products, and delivery channels with an aim of improving and better scaling its solution.

  • Sigora International - Haiti: Sigora International is a micro-utility energy system provider that utilizes specialized hardware, web-managed software, and simple, mobile-enabled, and pay-as-you go pre-payment solutions designed for emerging markets. Sigora sustainably powers anything from small fishing villages to large cities. Currently, Sigora provides reliable and affordable power to a 5,000-person town in Mole-St-Nicolas, NW Haiti. Sigora’s grant will focus on continuing its three-phase electrification expansion plan for Haiti aimed at reaching 136,000 people with renewable energy capacity of 3.5MWp.

  • Solaris Offgrid - Tanzania: Solaris Offgrid uses a modular, pay-as-you-go, mobile payment platform that offers affordable access to energy, educational content, and connectivity to more than 1 billion people. The Solaris system can easily charge 10+ tablets. Its grant will focus on expanding its educational content and computer science program with the addition of 1,000 content-rich tablets for approximately 7,000 users.

  • Standard Microgrid - Zambia: Standard Microgrid aims to reinvent the African utility industry via its containerized, micro-grid in-a-box solar packages. Its containers are combined with IoT home sensors aimed at off-grid and underserved communities. Locally managed, solar powered, micro-utility grids are built into 20’ containers that provide hyper- efficient power to homes and communities. Power consumption plans are customized on a per user basis with management and monitoring performed via the cloud. Its grant fund will focus on a 150-village rollout in Zambia.

  • SungCulture - Kenya: SunCulture aims to help smallholder farmers improve their crop yields through solar-powered irrigation systems. SunCulture’s grant will focus on expanding the current irrigation system with sensors, camera technology, and drones for pest-control and imagery. Its aim is to increase crop health and overall yield by leveraging Microsoft’s FarmBeats project.

  • VABB - Virginia: VABB is a Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP) that uses fixed wireless technology in both the unlicensed and licensed frequency ranges to provide high-speed Internet to both unserved and underserved rural communities within Central and Eastern Virginia. VABB solution focuses on delivering broadband to rural communities effectively, efficiently, and affordably. VABB’s grant will help purchase, erect, and equip utility poles in Virginia to support rural Microspot deployments aimed at bridging America’s digital divide and homework gap.

  • Picosoft - Nepal: PicoSoft aims to provide affordable, high-speed Internet services in rural Nepal, where difficult geography makes it exceedingly challenging to deliver broadband through traditional means. PicoSoft provides Internet access to customers using TV White Spaces technology, which utilizes unused TV channels to deliver what’s known as “super Wi-Fi”. TV White Spaces can travel over long distances and through mountainous geography, making this unique and affordable connectivity solution extremely viable for rural and developing communities within Nepal and beyond. PicoSoft’s grant will help deliver broadband to twenty K-12 schools. This technology has already been piloted in Nepal when it was used in recovery efforts following the devastating 2015 earthquake.

  • VisionNet - Democratic Republic of Congo: VisionNet provides Internet access to rural University students in the DRC, where only 3 million out of 79 million people have access to the Internet. VisionNet aims to alter the DRC’s digital divide with their Internet services and programs like Pocket Cyber Café. Cyber Cafe delivers connectivity to students via affordable “Wi-Fi zones” (hot spots). Students log on using their own mobile devices and laptops, enabling them to conduct academic research. VisionNet’s grant will increase hotspot coverage and wireless Internet services, as well as technical training and capacity building for women and girls.

  • WrightGrid - Democratic Republic of Congo: WrightGrid provides connectivity by designing, manufacturing, and deploying solar-powered phone charging and wireless Internet stations in public spaces. The brains of the system are its smart monitoring technology that optimizes the energy generated by its solar panel system. WrightGrid’s grant will be used to deploy 15 additional solar-powered phone charging stations.

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