Safaricom launches accelerator programme for local startups
Kenya's Safaricom has launched the Spark Accelerator programme, which aims to help early-stage fintech and content start-ups grow and scale their businesses.
The programme was launched in collaboration with M-PESA Africa and Sumitomo Corporation, a Fortune 500 global trading and business investment firm.
The program's implementing partner will be iHub, a Kenyan start-up ecosystem and a subsidiary of Africa's innovation hub, Co-Creation Hub.
Selected firms will participate in a three-month accelerator programme that includes training, coaching, investment, and go-to-market support to help them grow and scale.
“With the accelerator, we are providing more than just money injections, like we did with Spark Fund. We have restructured the programme to address the challenges that prevent early-stage startups from scaling," stated Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa.
According to a statement from Safaricom, the Spark Accelerator Programme will use an ecosystem-based approach to find and accelerate businesses by using a team of specialists that understand market dynamics and developing technology and are eager to facilitate ongoing innovation.
Katsuya Kashiki, general manager of Sumitomo Corporation's Smart Communications Platform Business Division, stated that the company's business experience will help to establish creative enterprises and encourage the growth of the startup ecosystem.
"Through this programme, we will contribute to the development of the African economy, human resource development, and the realisation of a more prosperous life for the people," he stated.
Participating startups will receive technical support to construct mini-apps incorporated in Safaricom's M-PESA Super App, allowing them to reach over 4 million app users.
"M-PESA connects over 60 million people and 5 million businesses in eight countries, creating a unique opportunity for African firms looking to expand and scale quickly. We have thus joined with Safaricom and Sumitomo to develop the Spark Accelerator, which will provide finance, technical experience, resources, and mentorship to the next generation of the continent's premier innovative businesses.
“In turn, the startups will develop solutions that connect M-PESA users and businesses to new prospects while offering them with even more value," stated Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, Managing Director of M-PESA Africa.
The accelerator programme will conclude in an investor demo day, where startups will bid for funding from Safaricom and partner venture capital firms.
Vodacom and AWS are two other programme supporters.