Kenya’s leading telco Safaricom will soon start investing in local tech startups after its shareholders approved two new subsidiaries.
The approvals, according to a statement from Safaricom were made during its 15th Annual General Meeting (AGM) held on Friday. Safaricom notes that the development represents a momentous step towards supporting tech entrepreneurs and fostering innovation in the country.
Safaricom adds that the subsidiaries, one dedicated to investing in seed-stage and another on growth-stage startups fortifies its role as a key enabler of the Kenyan tech community.
“We are committed to empowering the tech ecosystem in Kenya and beyond, and this strategic move will enable us to broaden our investments, embracing both seed-stage and growth-stage start-ups. Incorporating these subsidiaries is pivotal to realising Safaricom’s purpose to become a purpose-led technology company.” Mr Peter Ndegwa, Safaricom CEO, said.
Mr Ndegwa added the new companies will accelerate the business’ entry into new customer segments within the consumer, financial services, enterprises, and SME space and will “help unlock new business models and value chain opportunities.”
“We will be looking to invest in and support early-stage companies, especially in emerging technologies such as analytics, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, and the Internet of Things. ‘’ He added.
The incorporation of a company limited by guarantee to invest in seed stage startups, builds on the Spark Fund—an investment entity by Safaricom PLC governed by a Board of Trustees—designed to empower, and nurture seed-stage start-ups across Kenya. This new entity is expected to streamline administrative processes and enhance governance.
The Spark Fund portfolio companies include Shupavu 291 by Eneza Education, which focuses on mobile-web learning for primary and secondary school students; iProcure, which provides an agricultural supply chain platform in rural Africa; Sendy, a tech company that builds fulfilment infrastructure for e-commerce and consumer brands. Africa’s first Integrated Customer Experience company, Ajua and Soko Fresh who provides access to cold chain infrastructure that extends the shelf life of produce for Digifarm farmers.
On the other hand, the new private limited liability company will be mandated to; invest in mature, strategically aligned entities that will help accelerate Safaricom’s mission towards becoming a tech company by 2025. This entity will also act as the main investment vehicle for all strategic investments undertaken by Safaricom PLC.
Safaricom will be launching the call for applications in the coming weeks.