Safaricom and Sumitomo Corporation Partner to Support Startups through Spark Accelerator Program

In a groundbreaking move to nurture and empower the African startup ecosystem, Safaricom, through its M-Pesa Africa arm, has partnered with Sumitomo Corporation to launch the Spark Accelerator program. This initiative aims to provide early-stage startups with the resources and guidance they need to thrive and scale their operations across the continent.

The partnership between Safaricom, Kenya’s leading telecommunications provider, and Sumitomo Corporation, a global conglomerate with a rich history of supporting businesses, signifies a significant commitment to fostering innovation and driving economic growth in Africa. The program will focus on identifying promising startups and offering them comprehensive support, including funding, mentorship, and market access.

“Anchored around our purpose of transforming lives and in line with our ambition to be a purpose-led technology company, our goal is simple yet powerful: to empower startups with the access they need to succeed,” stated Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa.

Ndegwa further emphasized the program’s ecosystem-based approach, which aims to provide a platform for visionary entrepreneurs to grow and scale their businesses. This approach recognizes the interconnectedness of the startup ecosystem and the need for holistic support to ensure sustainable growth.

Entrepreneurs in Kenya face significant challenges, with a mere 30% lifetime survival rate for startups. The Spark Accelerator program seeks to address these challenges by providing funding, market access, and access to knowledge and skills.

“We are keen to see startups grow, and we are happy to open our technology to facilitate this growth,” affirmed M-Pesa Africa Managing Director Sitoyo Lopokoiyit.

Lopokoiyit highlighted the vast reach of M-PESA, with over 60 million customers and 3 million businesses across Africa. This extensive ecosystem provides an ideal platform for startups to test, refine, and scale their solutions.

The Safaricom board and shareholders approved the restructure of the Spark Fund in July 2023, transforming it into a more comprehensive support program. Shortlisted startups will gain access to markets, capital, technology, and product development support, empowering them to overcome the hurdles that often hinder growth.

The Spark Accelerator program represents a crucial step towards fostering innovation and driving economic growth in Africa. By providing early-stage startups with the resources and guidance they need to succeed, Safaricom and Sumitomo Corporation are laying the foundation for a thriving African startup ecosystem that will benefit entrepreneurs, businesses, and communities across the continent.

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