Safaricom, M-PESA Africa and Sumitomo Corporation launch an Accelerator Program for Startups

Safaricom, M-PESA Africa and Sumitomo Corporation launch an Accelerator Program for Startups. PHOTO / DOUGLAS MURIITHI

By Douglas Muriithi

Safaricom has entered into a partnership

with M-PESA Africa and Sumitomo

Corporation, a leading Fortune 500

global trading and business investment

company, launch the Spark

Accelerator, a program to support early-

stage startups to grow and scale their


The three partners will work together to

identify quality startups and provide a

blend of mentorship, funding and go to

market support.

“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.

Studies show that entrepreneurs in Kenya

face major challenges, with a 30%

lifetime survival rate for startups. The

key hindrances being the inability to

secure funding for growth, limited

access to market and a gap in knowledge

and skills required to scale a business.

Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, Managing Director, M-

PESA Africa, added, “We are keen to see

startups grow and we are happy to open

our technology to facilitate this

growth. M-PESA is a massive ecosystem

with over sixty million customers and

three million businesses across Africa,

and we trust this acceleration program

will enable startups to create value

within this ecosystem.”

“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, to be launched

within this financial year, will

leverage a team of founders and experts

to accelerate product innovation across

different industry verticals.

The Safaricom board and shareholders

approved the restructure of the Spark

Fund in July this year. The Spark

Accelerator program will seek to provide

shortlisted startups with access to

market, access to capital, and access to

technology and product development

support. Previously, Spark Fund only

offered capital injection.

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