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200 start-ups apply for Safaricom’s Spark Fund

We are on course to fulfil the promise that we made more than three years ago when we committed to nurture the growing mobile development space in Kenya, Joe Ogutu

“We are on course to fulfil the promise that we made more than three years ago when we committed to nurture the growing mobile development space in Kenya,” Joe Ogutu /File

Over 200 Kenyan start-ups have submitted enquiries and applications for the Safaricom Spark Venture Fund, with applications now going into the short-list phase.

TBL Mirror, the fund managers for the US$1 million fund launched last year, have now embarked on the process of evaluating the start-ups in line with the fund’s objectives; with recipients set to receive between Sh7 million and Sh22 million to invest in their businesses in return for a minority stake in their companies.

“We are on course to fulfil the promise that we made more than three years ago when we committed to nurture the growing mobile development space in Kenya. We believe that the sector is ripe for the development of innovative, local-based solutions that have viable commercial application,” said Joe Ogutu, Director for Innovation and Strategy, Safaricom.

In addition to direct funding opportunities, the start-ups will also have access to strategic relationships with partners designed to empower them with the skills to build sustainable businesses. They shall also receive access to a suite of Safaricom services, as well as gain access to a mix of marketing channels that aim to help the start-ups gain market share and in turn help boost revenue generation.

The Safaricom Spark Fund is a US$1 million kitty which will be allocated to a select group of start-ups based on set criteria that the Fund has laid out. For a start-up to be considered for funding, the firm’s Directors must demonstrate that they are willing to ramp up and scale their operations with a view to growing their market share.

“We have seen promising and good quality start-ups that are starting to build up experienced teams alongside their technical and sales workforce. This illustrates the high level of interest in the market for scalable, locally developed and innovative solutions,” said Eline Blaauboer, Fund Manager, TBL Mirror.

Over the last five years, Safaricom has invested in a number of initiatives that aim to boost the capacity for local innovators to develop specialized mobile applications and tap into the growing app development ecosystem in the region.

To support this effort, Safaricom recruits participants in its annual Safaricom Appwiz Challenges as well as the global AppStar Challenge. Safaricom also works to develop entrepreneurial talent with certified qualifications and experiential training in collaboration with established academic institutions through the Safaricom Academy.

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