Sparking Innovation: Safaricom, M-PESA, and Sumitomo Launch Accelerator Program

In a bid to propel tech startups to new heights, Safaricom, M-PESA Africa, and Sumitomo Corporation have issued a call for applications for the Spark Accelerator Program. This transformative three-month initiative is designed to accelerate the growth and scale of early-stage startups, providing a comprehensive package of training, mentorship, funding, and go-to-market support.

Peter Ndegwa, CEO of Safaricom, expressed the program’s alignment with the company’s ambition to be a purpose-led technology entity. Unlike previous initiatives, the Spark Accelerator goes beyond capital injection, addressing the specific challenges that hinder early startups from achieving scalable success.

The program’s initial phase will focus on Fintech and Content startups, taking an ecosystem-based approach. A team of experts well-versed in market dynamics and emerging technologies will drive the identification and acceleration of startups, fostering continuous innovation.

Katsuya Kashiki, GM of Smart Communications Platform Business Division at Sumitomo Corporation, highlighted the corporation’s commitment to contributing to the development of the African economy and supporting the expansion of the startup ecosystem through its extensive business experience.

Participating startups will gain access to technical support to develop mini-apps integrated into Safaricom’s M-PESA Super App. This unique opportunity enables startups to reach over 4 million customers using the app.

Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, Managing Director of M-PESA Africa, emphasized the strategic advantage of the Spark Accelerator, leveraging M-PESA’s vast network that connects over 60 million customers and 5 million businesses across eight countries.

M-PESA Africa will provide expertise, market research, insights, and capacity support beyond the three-month program, enabling startups to tap into a broad user base across M-PESA’s eight markets.

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

Implementing partner iHUB, a subsidiary of Co-Creation Hub (CcHUB), is excited to spearhead this collaboration. Ojoma Ochai, Managing Director of CcHUB, sees the Spark Accelerator as a catalyst for empowering digital ecosystems and fostering innovation.

Supporting partners for the program include Vodacom and AWS. The call for applications is open from January 12, 2024, to February 16, 2024. As the Spark Accelerator unfolds, it promises to be a dynamic journey, shaping the next generation of tech startups in Africa. Entrepreneurs with impactful solutions are encouraged to seize this opportunity and contribute to the innovation landscape.

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