Safaricom invests part of the US$1 million Spark Fund in a local package delivery startup, Sendy. Sendy offers a marketplace for last-mile package delivery and logistics services, allowing customers to send packages and documents within Nairobi and its environs using a mobile application that connects them to motorcycle riders, and drivers of vans and pickup trucks.
“When we launched Sendy in September 2014 we had a vision of making package delivery as simple as sending a text message. We wanted to use technology do this, so we created an app that is easy to use, offers transparent pricing and supports cashless transactions,” said Meshack Alloys, CEO, Sendy.
The startup is about one year old and offers convenience, competitive pricing, speed and excellent customer service, allowing individual customers and businesses to track the movement and location of their packages in real time using their app and web platform.
“Having Safaricom believe in us enough to come on board as an investor is a big boost to our business. We intend to use the funds received to invest in our infrastructure, improve our platform, roll out new features and services and grow our team so that we can provide an even better customer experience,” he said.
Since launching Spark Fund in November last year, Safaricom has received over 400 applications. An on-going evaluation process to identify potential start-ups who will benefit from the Sh90 million venture fund, continues, with each successful start-up expected to receive between Sh6 million and Sh22 million.
“We are very pleased to be investing in Sendy, a business with a young, vibrant, innovative and ambitious team. Through Sendy we believe we are investing in more than just a start-up; we’re investing in a business that will transform the lives of everyone it touches, from the customer, to the boda-boda operator to the techie building & maintain the platform,” said Joe Ogutu, Director for Strategy and Innovation, Safaricom.
In addition to Safaricom’s investment, Sendy will also have access to strategic partnerships, network elements, and a mix of marketing opportunities that will help it expand.
“We’re excited to be partnering with Safaricom not only on the investment side, but also on the technical side. We’ve been using M-PESA as our main payment collection method since we launched Sendy and we’re pleased to announce that next week we’ll be releasing a new seamless payment checkout process that will work directly through Safaricom’s newly released M-PESA API,” said Mr. Alloys.
Rather than offering grants, the Safaricom Spark Fund invests in start-ups by purchasing minority equity stake or providing convertible debt, allowing young businesses to access the finances needed to grow their businesses beyond their start-up phase.
“For us to invest in a start-up, we need to believe that both the product or service and management have the potential to scale and become number one or two player in their chosen field,” said Eline Blaauboer, Managing Partner, TBL Invest, who manage the Safaricom Spark Fund.
“Sendy has a lot of promise in this area and has started to ramp up sales and operations, so we believe it is the ideal candidate for our investment,” said Ms. Blaauboer.