Nine startups selected for the Safaricom Spark Accelerator Program

Safaricom has announced the nine startups selected for its Spark Accelerator Program. The program aims to accelerate early-stage startups in the fintech and content space to grow and scale their businesses and is run in partnership with M-PESA Africa and Sumitomo Corporation.

The recipient startups were identified following a call for applications across different categories, which included Embedded Finance, Future Fintech, SME Productivity Tools and Content.

By providing a blend of training, mentorship, and go-to-market support, the Spark Accelerator is taking an ecosystem-based approach to provide the startups with access to markets, access to technology, product development support and access to capital.

“Leveraging technology to drive meaningful innovation is a strong premise under which the Spark Accelerator program was founded. By supporting and investing in these tech-enabled startups, we aim to drive significant societal change and economic growth. We are excited to work with visionary founders who represent the promise of tomorrow and to see the impact they will create in their respective sectors,” said Peter Ndegwa, CEO, Safaricom.

The first cohort of the Spark Accelerator will include two startups under Embedded Finance category namely Chumz, a startup that is leveraging mobile money, gamification, and behavioral psychology to build a community of savers and Nobuk which is streamlining payment collection and reconciliation for African groups and collectives, simplifying financial reporting.

Four startups were shortlisted under the SME Productivity Tools category. These include, Chpter which empowers businesses to sell more on social platforms like WhatsApp and Instagram by automating conversations, marketing and payments all in one place, through an AI powered platform. Faidi HR, a one in all Cloud Payroll and HR Platform for Businesses, Churpy which seeks to automate repetitive and manual tasks in the office of the “CFO” and Twiva, a social-commerce platform that helps brands to effectively gain access to markets by leveraging social media influencers to market their goods and services.

HealthX Africa, a data driven, primary health care provider offering hybrid digital and physical touch points, with the goal of providing a doctor for every Kenyan and BlackRhino VR that is enabling creators and brands alike, to tell immersive and interactive stories that are appealing to contemporary audiences, were shortlisted under the content category.

VunaPay, a platform for Agricultural Cooperatives that facilitates instant payment to smallholder farmers for produce delivered to the cooperatives was shortlisted under the Future Fintech category.

“By leveraging our extensive global business know-how with excellent operations and customer base of Safaricom and M-PESA Africa, we are excited to expand digital financial services and contribute to the development of the Kenyan and African economies, human resource development and a more prosperous life through supporting and collaborating with advanced startups,” said Katsuya Kashiki, General Manager of Smart Communication Platform SBU, Sumitomo Corporation.

“In alignment with our commitment to accelerating innovation for African prosperity, we are excited to welcome these startups into the programme. Their unique solutions harness transformative opportunities to leverage technology to significantly improve the quality of lives of millions of Kenyans. We look forward to supporting the startups to optimize their offerings, scale their solutions and expand their impact,” said Nissi Madu, Managing Partner at iHUB/CcHUB

Last year, Safaricom entered into a strategic partnership with M-PESA Africa and Sumitomo Corporation, a leading Fortune 500 global trading and business investment company, to launch the Spark Accelerator following approval by the Safaricom board and shareholders to restructure the Spark Fund.

The Spark Accelerator will leverage a team of founders and experts to accelerate product innovation across different industry verticals.

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