Safaricom’s Spark Fund has allocated Ksh 540 million ($5m) to fund local tech startups in the country. This is part of its initiative to invest in startups that align with Safaricom’s purpose, as well as support high potential tech ventures in Kenya. The Spark Fund seeks to grow strategically aligned tech-enabled startups for either a Safaricom Partnership or acquisition.
Startups will receive support in the form of investments, business development support and technical assistance.
“The fund will support startups through a combination of investment, business development support and technical assistance leveraging on Safaricom’s unique capabilities, assets and market positioning,” Safaricom says.
The fund will invest up to Ksh 54 million ($500,000) and possibly larger amounts on a case-by-case basis into startups which offer local solutions to their communities. The Spark Fund is especially keen to invest in late seed and early growth stage ventures in education, healthcare and agriculture. However, the opportunity is open for startups on other categories that complement Safaricom’s offering.
Eligibility to the Spark Fund
Startups interested in the funding need to have a Kenyan presence, as well as a commercially viable business model. Criteria for the Spark fund also requires the startups to have a refined working mobile-based product or service with an active user base. Interested ventures should be generating revenues and sign a partnership with Safaricom. Eligible startups should be either late seed or early growth stage tech-driven ventures.
The Spark Fund urges applicants to protect their ideas 0or prototypes before submitting their applications.
Fund Manager S&B Ventures will identify and select successful applicants, and later present shortlisted ventures to Safaricom’s Investment Committee and the Board of Trustees for approval for funding. Safaricom will then appoint an internal deal team to offer post-investment support after disbursing the funds.
In 2014, the inception of the Spark Fund, Safaricom allocated Ksh 108 million ($1m) to grow startups, leveraging on the companies unique capabilities, assets and market position. The first round of the fund benefitted startups like Sendy, Lynk, Ajua, iProcure, Farmidrive and Eneza between 2015 and 2017, investing an average of Ksh 18.9 million ($175,000) for every startup.