BY TOM JACKSON
Leading Kenyan mobile network operator (MNO) Safaricom has announced the second edition of its Spark Venture Fund, which will invest a total of US$6 million in several innovative Kenyan tech startups.
Safaricom first launched the Spark Venture Fund back in 2014, to invest and support late-seed, early growth stage companies with a presence in Kenya, whilst leveraging Safaricom assets to enable the companies to scale.
A US$1 million fund, it invested an average of US$175,000 in six Kenyan startups, namely Sendy, Lynk, Ajua, Eneza, iProcure and FarmDrive, and a second fund has now been announced. The new Spark Venture Fund is a bigger beast, however, standing at US$6 million, while Safaricom will also invest larger amounts. Recipients can expect to receive up to US$500,000 each, and on a case-by-case basis larger amounts, in convertible notes or equity investment.
“The new allocation will go a long way in supporting the successful development and growth of high potential tech startups in Kenya. 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,” the company said.
The Spark Venture Fund will focus on companies that align with Safaricom’s long-term corporate vision in education, healthcare and agriculture, though startups in other categories of strategic importance that are complementary to Safaricom’s offering will also be considered.
The startups will be identified and selected by fund manager S&B Ventures, and upon completion of a due diligence process be presented to Safaricom’s Investment Committee and Board of Trustees for funding consideration. Following investment approval, funds will be disbursed, and Safaricom will appoint an internal deal team to provide post investment support.