Innovative mobile applications and ICT startups now stand a chance to join Safaricom’s accelerating and development programme dubbed ‘Spark Venture Fund’. The transformative USD 1 million (90 million) Fund set-up for an initial 2 year period will be offered to Mobile ICT based start-ups based in Kenya either through equity Investment in their businesses or in the form of other debt instruments.
Start-ups will be eligible to receive amounts between USD 75,000 and USD 250,000. This will help actualize Safaricom’s aspiration to nurture a vibrant ICT economy in Kenya which will directly address key startup and developers’ pain points such as the cost and speed of accessing a platform where they can test their solutions.
The funds will be administered together with international tech fund TBL Invest, who have already been appointed by Safaricom as the principal Fund Managers, and all prospective applications will be subject to approval from a cross-functional Investment Committee made up of Safaricom management,TBL Invest and an external industry expert.
Despite contributing to over 60% of Kenya’s GDP, small businesses are under-funded and do have access to the same level of advice as their counterparts in other countries. Safaricom will also extend access to structured mentoring to beneficiaries of the Venture Fund as that will be an additional assurance that the selected ventures remain sustainable in the long run.
The launch of the fund follows a number of initiatives that Safaricom has engaged in over the last twelve months to support the innovation ecosystem in Kenya, including the development of an annual mobile app competition known as Appwhiz.
To qualify for the Fund, start-ups must have a working product or service with an active user base that demonstrate their ability to create transformative solutions; be locally based within Kenya; provide a use case demonstrating local market potential; have an identified market segment and have adequate talent to see the project through its goals.