Safaricom, M-PESA Africa, and Sumitomo Corporation have united in a daring endeavor to empower nascent startups and cultivate ingenuity in Kenya, as they unveil the Spark Accelerator program. This pioneering initiative aims to reshape the entrepreneurial terrain by providing an all-encompassing support structure, encompassing mentorship, funding, and market access.
Peter Ndegwa, CEO of Safaricom, stressed the significance of their ecosystem-based approach in enabling the progress and triumph of visionary entrepreneurs.
The Spark Accelerator program endeavors to overcome these obstacles and cultivate the upcoming cohort of prosperous enterprises by addressing the funding constraints, restricted market entry, and the deficiency in knowledge and expertise that startups in Kenya encounter, resulting in a mere 30% rate of long-term survival.
Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, Managing Director of M-PESA Africa, eagerly expressed their desire to facilitate the growth of startups through technology. M-PESA, with its expansive ecosystem encompassing over sixty million customers and three million businesses across Africa, is positioned to assume a crucial role in this undertaking. “We have faith that this acceleration program will empower startups to generate substantial value within this ecosystem.”
Katsuya Kashiki, Corporate Officer and General Manager of Smart Communications Platform Business Division at Sumitomo Corporation, emphasized their dedication to nurturing the flourishing of the startup ecosystem. He underscored the potential for groundbreaking advancements and the proliferation of digital financial services, advantageous to sectors like e-commerce, insurance, and entertainment in Africa.
The Spark Accelerator program, set to commence within this fiscal year, will utilize a team of seasoned founders and experts to propel product innovation across diverse industry sectors. This revamped initiative, sanctioned by the Safaricom board and shareholders in July, seeks to furnish selected startups with avenues to markets, capital, technology, and assistance in product development, in contrast to the prior Spark Fund, which solely provided financial infusion.
The collaboration between Safaricom, M-PESA Africa, and Sumitomo Corporation signifies a momentous stride in the transformation of the startup ecosystem in Kenya. The Spark Accelerator program, through its cultivation of inventive concepts and provision of vital resources, pledges to bolster the advancement and triumph of nascent startups, thus fostering a thriving entrepreneurial panorama within the nation. Undoubtedly, the prospects for Kenyan entrepreneurs seeking to leave an indelible imprint on the business realm are exceedingly auspicious.