Safaricom has joined forces with M-PESA Africa and Sumitomo Corporation, a Fortune 500 global trading and business investment firm, to launch the Spark Accelerator, a program designed to help early-stage startups grow and scale their operations.
The three partners will collaborate to identify quality startups and provide a mix of mentorship, funding, and go-to-market assistance.
“Anchored around our purpose of transforming lives and in line with our ambition to be a purpose led technology company, our goal is simple yet powerful, to empower startups with the access they need to succeed. We are taking an ecosystem-based approach to provide a platform for bold and visionary founders to grow and scale their businesses,” said Peter Ndegwa, CEO, Safaricom.
Research indicates that Kenyan entrepreneurs have significant obstacles, as evidenced by the 30% lifetime survival rate of firms. The main obstacles are the lack of capital for expansion, restricted market access, and a deficiency in the expertise needed to expand a company.
“We are keen to see startups grow, and we are happy to open our technology to facilitate this growth,” said Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, Managing Director of M-PESA Africa.
“With the synergy of our extensive business expertise and the products and services offered by emerging start-ups we connect with via this initiative, we are committed to fostering the growth of the start-up ecosystem. In doing so, we aim to drive innovation, and further the reach of digital financial services, enriching sectors like e-commerce, insurance, and entertainment in Africa.” said Katsuya Kashiki, Corporate Officer, General Manager of Smart Communications Platform Business Division, Sumitomo Corporation.
The Spark Accelerator, which is set to launch this fiscal year, will use a team of founders and experts to accelerate product innovation across multiple industry verticals.
In July of this year, the Spark Fund’s restructuring was approved by the Safaricom board and shareholders. The goal of the Spark Accelerator program is to give the entrepreneurs that made the short list access to the market, funding, technology, and product development assistance. Spark Fund used to simply provide capital infusion.