Last year Safaricom launched the Safaricom Spark Venture Fund, a $1 Million fund with an objective of allowing techpreneurs in Kenya access financing, mentorship and resources to scale their businesses. Eligible start-ups were set to receive amounts between Sh6.75 million ($75,000) and Sh22.5 million ($250,000). The fund was set-up for an initial two-year period and administered by international tech fund TBL Invest, as the principal fund managers.
In an update, Safaricom says over 200 Kenyan start-ups submitted inquiries and applications with shortlisting now moving to the shortlisting phase. The start-ups selected will in exchange for an investment in their business offer a minority stake in the companies. For a start-up to be considered for funding, the firm’s Directors must demonstrate that they are willing to ramp up and scale their operations with a view to growing their market share. The startups will, under the program access marketing tools from Safaricom as an investor and other resources like the Mpesa API, USSD, Bulk SMS and Safaricom cloud hosting.
The telco started sometime back with an innovation call to partner with developers come up with products that could plug in to Safaricom network and add value to consumers. The firm then partnered with Strathmore University to launch the Safaricom appwiz that would focus on developing startups and have them access many resources like mentoring, developer training and access to marketing tools. Appwiz is the drive that led to Safaricom thinking about an Innovation fund that would come in for existing developers with products that are scalable. Winners also get the change to participate in the global AppStar Challenge. Safaricom also seeks to develop entrepreneurial talent with certified qualifications and experiential training in collaboration with established academic institutions through the Safaricom Academy.