In a strategic move to foster innovation and support the growth of early-stage startups, Safaricom, M-PESA Africa, and Sumitomo Corporation, a Fortune 500 global trading and business investment company, have unveiled the Spark Accelerator program. This collaborative initiative aims to provide tech startups with the necessary tools, mentorship, funding, and go-to-market support to accelerate their growth trajectory.
Purpose-Led Technology: Safaricom's Ambition
Peter Ndegwa, CEO of Safaricom, emphasizes that the Spark Accelerator program aligns with the company's ambition to be a purpose-led technology company. Unlike previous initiatives, this accelerator program goes beyond capital injection, addressing the specific challenges that often hinder early startups from reaching their full scale and potential.
Program Structure and Focus
The Spark Accelerator will focus on Fintech and Content startups in its initial phase, taking an ecosystem-based approach to identify and accelerate promising ventures. A team of experts, well-versed in market dynamics and emerging technologies, will play a pivotal role in enabling continuous innovation among participating startups.
Strategic Partnership and Wide-Ranging Benefits
Sumitomo Corporation's extensive business experience is expected to contribute significantly to creating innovative businesses and supporting the expansion of the startup ecosystem. Through the Spark Accelerator program, the aim is to contribute to the development of the African economy, human resource development, and improving the overall quality of life.
Technical Support and Integration with M-PESA Super App
Participating startups stand to benefit from technical support, gaining the opportunity to develop mini-apps embedded into Safaricom's M-PESA Super App. This integration empowers startups to reach more than 4 million customers using the app, providing an invaluable platform for rapid growth.
M-PESA Africa's Role and Extended Support
Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, Managing Director of M-PESA Africa, underscores the unique opportunity provided by M-PESA, connecting over 60 million customers and 5 million businesses across eight countries. Beyond funding, technical expertise, and resources, M-PESA Africa will offer expertise, market research, insights, and additional capacity support for startups aiming to expand beyond the program's three-month duration.
Implementing Partner: iHUB
iHUB, a pioneering force within Kenya's startup ecosystem and a subsidiary of Africa's leading innovation hub, Co-Creation Hub (CcHUB), will serve as the implementing partner of the Spark Accelerator. This partnership aims to create a launchpad for forward-thinking founders, empowering them to shape and scale their enterprises.
Investor Demo Day and Culmination
The accelerator program will culminate in an investor demo day, providing startups with the opportunity to pitch for investment from Safaricom and partner venture capital firms. This event marks a crucial milestone, offering startups a platform to showcase their innovations and secure essential funding for further growth.
Call for Applications
The call for applications is open from January 12, 2024, to February 16, 2024. Tech startups interested in joining the Spark Accelerator program can submit their applications through [this link].
Vodacom and AWS join the initiative as supporting partners, contributing to the holistic ecosystem that the Spark Accelerator aims to cultivate. This collaborative effort signifies a commitment to fostering innovation, empowering digital ecosystems, and driving positive change within the African tech landscape.