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Microsoft partners with Ovamba to produce AI chatbot talking African languages

by Milicent Atieno

Microsoft has partnered with a U.S.-based FinTech Ovamba Solutions to develop and produce first AI chatbot speaking African language. The chatbot is being designed to serve millions of SMEs across Africa currently facing exclusion from financial services solely because of functional and businesses literacy challenges.

Microsoft and Ovamba Solutions designed and created the chatbot from the ground app and will be rolled out as an add-on on the Ovamba Plus app.

Currently banking processes and some FinTech solutions are supposed to help the financially disenfranchised. Bank solutions, application forms, and contracts assume that all SMEs are fully literate, and actually end up further alienating those who may not be able to read or speak French, English, Arabic or any other colonial language,” said Viola Llewellyn, the Ovamba President, and Co-Founder. “If we don’t address this, then we are missing the true promise of FinTech and the opportunity to include the informal sector in GDP count.”

Prashant Mahajan, Chief Technology Officer, expressed Microsoft enthusiasm in partnering in the project. Mahajan led the team from Ovamba in pursuing the project. Mahajan said:

Ovamba has been supporting SMEs with ‘Growth-As-A-Service’ for the last year and realizes that business training and formal education is a luxury not afforded to some members of Africa’s entrepreneurial sector, and is often taught in western languages. We can help them to sustain growth by delivering business support and training in the language that they are most used to.”

Claudius Mbemba, a member of the Partner Catalysts Team, shared the team’s enthusiasm by writing on the Microsoft Developer Blog: “We plan to continue our work with Ovamba, especially building an African dialect language recognition system to enable application localization and cater to the specific dialects of their customers. We look forward to tackling these challenges and more in our future work with Ovamba.”

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