Venture capital Spark Fund launches US$4m funding for local tech startup

KENYA – Safaricom Spark Fund, a venture capital fund, has allocated KSh540 million (US$4.99m) to fund local tech startups in Kenya as part of its initiative to invest in startups that align with Safaricom’s purpose, as well as support high potential tech ventures in the country.

The Startups will receive support in the form of investments, business development support, and technical assistance from the fund seeking to grow strategically aligned tech-enabled startups for either a Safaricom Partnership or acquisition.

“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,” said Safaricom in a statement.

The Spark Fund, keen to invest in late seed and early growth stage ventures in education, healthcare, and agriculture, aims to boost by up to KSh54 million (US$500,000) and possibly larger amounts on a case-by-case basis into startups that offer local solutions to their communities.

However, the opportunity is open for startups on other categories that complement Safaricom’s offering.

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 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 KSh108 million (US$1m) to grow startups, leveraging on the company’s 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 KSh18.9 million (US$175,000) for every startup.

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