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Safaricom, M-PESA Africa, Sumitomo Call for Applications for the Spark Accelerator Program

Peter Ndegwa, CEO, Safaricom, Katsuya Kashiki, General Manager, Smart Communications Platform Business Division, Sumitomo Corporation (Middle) launch the Spark Accelerator Program. (Courtesy Photo)

Peter Ndegwa, CEO, Safaricom, Katsuya Kashiki, General Manager, Smart Communications Platform Business Division, Sumitomo Corporation (Middle) launch the Spark Accelerator Program. (Courtesy Photo)

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 Spark Accelerator program will run for three-month and it will provide 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.

“The Spark Accelerator program aligns 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, of Safaricom.

This 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, and emerging tech and who are keen to enable continuous innovation.

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

Participating startups are set to benefit from 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.

Managing Director, of M-PESA Africa Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, said “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”.

Safaricom, M-PESA Africa, Sumitomo Corporation launch Spark Accelerator Program Call for Applications. (Courtesy Photo)

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.

Managing Director, CcHUB Ojoma Ochai said “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”.

Other supporting partners for the program include Vodacom and AWS.

The call for applications will run until February 16, 2024, If interested, you can apply HERE.

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