Safaricom and partners launch accelerator program for local startups

Kenya’s leading telco Safaricom has launched an accelerator program targeting local startups. Known as Spark Accelerator the program aims to accelerate early-stage startups in the fintech and content space to grow and scale their businesses.

The program has been launched in partnership with M-PESA Africa and Sumitomo Corporation – a leading Fortune 500 global trading and business investment company.

iHUB, a pioneering force within Kenya’s startup ecosystem and a subsidiary of Africa’s leading innovation hub, Co-Creation Hub (CcHUB), will be the implementing partner of the program. 

Selected startups will be taken through a three-month accelerator program that will provide a blend of training, mentorship, funding and go-to-market support to spark the growth and scale of ventures that come into the accelerator and set them up for long-term success.

“The Spark Accelerator program is in line with our ambition to be a purpose-led technology company. With the accelerator, we are offering more than just capital injection which is what we did previously with Spark Fund. We have restructured the program to address the challenges that hinder early startups from growing to scale,” said Peter Ndegwa, CEO, of Safaricom.

According to a statement from Safaricom, the Spark Accelerator Program will take an ecosystem-based approach to identify and accelerate the startups by leveraging a team of experts who understand market dynamics, and emerging tech and who are keen to enable continuous innovation.

Katsuya Kashiki, General Manager, of the Smart Communications Platform Business Division at Sumitomo Corporation said the company’s wide range of business experience will contribute to creating innovative businesses and support the expansion of the startup ecosystem. 

‘’Through this program, we will contribute to the development of the African economy, human resource development, and the realization of a more prosperous life for the people, ” he said said 

Participating startups are set to benefit with access to technical support to develop mini-apps embedded into Safaricom’s M-PESA Super App, empowering them to reach more than 4 million customers who use the app.

“M-PESA connects more than 60 million customers and 5 million businesses across eight countries, providing a unique opportunity for startups in Africa looking to grow and scale rapidly. We have therefore partnered with Safaricom and Sumitomo to launch the Spark Accelerator to provide funding, technical expertise, resources and mentorship to the next generation of the continent’s leading tech startups. In turn, the startups will create innovations that connect customers and businesses on M-PESA to more opportunities while providing them with even more value,” said Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, Managing Director, M-PESA Africa. 

In addition,  M-PESA Africa will offer expertise,  market research and insights, and other capacity support for startups looking to expand their reach to other countries. The support will continue beyond the three-month program enabling startups in the program to tap into more than 60 million customers and 5 million businesses across M-PESA’s eight markets.

The accelerator program will culminate in an investor demo day for the startups to pitch for investment from Safaricom and partner venture capital firms.

Other supporting partners for the program include Vodacom and AWS.

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Nixon Kanali

Tech journalist based in Nairobi. I track and report on tech and African startups. Founder and Editor of TechTrends Media. Nixon is also the East African tech editor for Africa Business Communities. Send tips to

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