Safaricom, M-PESA and Sumitomo announce call for applications for Spark Accelerator Program

Safaricom, M-PESA Africa and Sumitomo Corporation have announced calls for  tech startups looking to join the Spark Accelerator program, which aims at accelerating early stage startups to grow and scale their businesses.

The three-month accelerator program will provide a blend of training, mentorship, funding and go-to-market support to spark the growth and scale of ventures that come into the accelerator and set them up for long-term success.

(TOP: M-PESA Africa Chief Commercial Officer, Felix Kamenga – left – and Sumitomo Africa MD Tadao Saida – right – and Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa – centre – during the launch of the Spark Accelerator program for start-ups).   

“The Spark Accelerator program is in line with our ambition to be a purpose led technology company. With the accelerator, we are offering more than just capital injection which is what we did previously with Spark Fund. We have restructured the program to address the challenges that hinder early startups from growing to scale,” said Peter Ndegwa, CEO, Safaricom.

The Spark Accelerator will benefit Fintech and Content startups in the initial phase. It will take an ecosystem-based approach to identify and accelerate the startups by leveraging a team of experts who understand market dynamics, emerging tech and who are keen to enable continuous innovation. 

“Sumitomo Corporation’s wide range of business experience will contribute to create innovative businesses and support the expansion of the startup ecosystem. Through this program, we will contribute to the development of the African economy, human resource development, and the realization of a more prosperous life for the people, ” said Katsuya Kashiki, the GM, Smart Communications Platform Business Division, Sumitomo. 

Participating startups are set to benefit with access to technical support to develop mini-apps embedded into Safaricom’s M-PESA Super App, empowering them to reach more than 4 million customers who use the app.

“M-PESA connects more than 60 million customers and 5 million businesses across eight countries, providing a unique opportunity for startups in Africa looking to grow and scale rapidly. We have therefore partnered with Safaricom and Sumitomo to launch the Spark Accelerator to provide funding, technical expertise, resources and mentorship to the next generation of the continent’s leading tech startups. In turn, the startups will create innovations that connect customers and businesses on M-PESA to more opportunities while providing them with even more value,” said Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, Managing Director, M-PESA Africa.

In addition,  M-PESA Africa will offer expertise,  market research and insights, and other capacity support for startups looking to expand their reach to other countries. The support will continue beyond the three-month program enabling startups in the program to tap into more than 60 million customers and 5 million businesses across M-PESA’s eight markets.

The accelerator program will culminate in an investor demo day for the startups to pitch for investment from Safaricom and partner venture capital firms.

iHUB, a pioneering force within Kenya’s startup ecosystem and a subsidiary of Africa’s leading innovation hub, Co-Creation Hub (CcHUB), will be the implementing partner of the Spark Accelerator.

“We are thrilled to spearhead this groundbreaking collaboration with Safaricom, M-PESA Africa, and Sumitomo Corporation.  The Spark Accelerator serves as a launchpad for forward-thinking founders to shape and scale their enterprises. We encourage startups with dynamic and impactful solutions to join us on this exciting journey, where together with our esteemed partners, we are excited to catalyze innovation empowering digital ecosystems,” said Ojoma Ochai, the MD, CcHUB.

Other supporting partners for the program include Vodacom and AWS.

The call for applications will run from 12 January 2024 to 16 February 2024.


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