Safaricom, M-PESA Africa and Sumitomo Corporation launch Spark Accelerator Program Call for Applications

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The three-month program will support early-stage Fintech and Content startups to accelerate growth


Nairobi, Kenya – 15th January 2024 Safaricom (NSE: SCOM), M-PESA Africa and Sumitomo Corporation – a leading Fortune 500 global trading and business investment company – have announced calls for tech startups looking to join the Spark Accelerator program, which aims at accelerating early stage startups to grow and scale their businesses.

The three-month accelerator program 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.

The Spark Accelerator will benefit Fintech and Content startups in the initial phase. It will take an ecosystem-based approach to identify and accelerate the startups by leveraging a team of experts who understand market dynamics, emerging tech and who are keen to enable continuous innovation.

“Sumitomo Corporation’s wide range of business experience will contribute to creating innovative businesses, 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, ” said Katsuya Kashiki, General Manager, Smart Communications Platform Business Division.

Participating startups are set to benefit with access and 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 Sumitomo and Safaricom 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, MD – 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.

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 Spark Accelerator. 

“We are thrilled to spearhead this groundbreaking collaboration with Safaricom, M-PESA Africa, and Sumitomo Corporation.  The Spark Accelerator serves as a launchpad for forward-thinking founders to shape and scale their enterprises. We encourage startups with dynamic and impactful solutions to join us on this exciting journey, where together with our esteemed partners, we are excited to catalyze innovation empowering digital ecosystems,” said Ojoma Ochai, Managing Director, CcHUB 

Other supporting partners for the program include Vodacom and AWS. 

The call for applications will run from 12 January 2024 to 16 February 2024 on




About Safaricom

Safaricom is the leading telecommunication company in East Africa. Our purpose is to transform lives by connecting people to people, people to opportunities and people to information. We keep over 45 million customers connected and play a critical role in the society, supporting over one million jobs both directly and indirectly while our total economic value was estimated at KES 393 billion ($ 3.1 billion) for the 12 months through March 2022.

Listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange and with annual revenues of close to KES 310.9 billion ($2.3 billion) as of March 2023. Safaricom provides connectivity through a wide range of technology, 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G in aggregate covering over 99% of Kenya’s population.

We run the world’s largest mobile payment system and Africa’s largest Fintech, M-PESA, the world’s first mobile money transfer system. By empowering over 30 million customers to transact, save or borrow money through their mobile phone, M-PESA has driven financial inclusion in Kenya to 83.7% in 2021 of the adult population from a low of 26.7% in 2006 and generated over KES 117.2 Billion ($886 million) in revenue as at FY23.

Our subsidiary, Safaricom Telecommunications Ethiopia is deploying world class networks and services and is planning to roll out mobile money services in 2023, to contribute to Ethiopia’s digital transformation.

Safaricom is an equal opportunity employer, actively recruiting staff from different backgrounds reflecting the communities that we serve. We are committed to equal gender representation at all levels. Our target is to achieve 50:50 senior management gender parity by 2025.

As part of our ongoing commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we continue to work towards improving energy and resource efficiency in our network and facilities to reduce carbon emissions and our fuel consumption. We remain committed to becoming a Net Zero carbon-emitting company by 2050.

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About M-PESA Africa

Launched in 2007, M-PESA is Africa’s largest fintech providing financial services to more than 60 million customers every month. The service empowers customers to transact- send and receive money, make payments, as well as save and access credit all from the convenience of a mobile phone.

M-PESA has connected tens of millions of customers with access to financial services, contributing to a more than a three-fold growth in formal financial inclusion across Africa. It has equally transformed the standard of living in rural areas and empowered women with access and control over their finances. Tapped by many to power the digital economy, M-PESA has contributed to youth empowerment through entrepreneurship especially in e-commerce.

Socioeconomically, M-PESA has provided a lifeline for millions of people facilitating direct disbursements from governments and non-government organisations to refugees, patients accessing health care, economically vulnerable persons amongst other groups.

It continues to be an innovation trailblazer through services such as Fuliza – the world’s first mobile overdraft, M-Shwari which pioneered mobile only banking, the Pochi La Biashara wallet, and the M-PESA Bill Manager among others.

M-PESA is run by Safaricom, Vodacom and Vodafone in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Ethiopia, Ghana and Egypt. It provides customers with access to the widest agent network across the continent at more than 600,000 agent outlets and to cashless payments at more than 950,000 businesses. 




About Sumitomo

Sumitomo Corporation (“SC”) is a leading Fortune 500 global trading and business investment

company with 128 locations (Japan: 20, Overseas: 108) in 65 countries and regions. The entire

SC Group consists of approximately 900 companies. SC conducts commodity transactions in all

industries utilizing worldwide networks, provides customers with various financing, serves as an

organizer and a coordinator for various projects, and invests in companies to promote greater

growth potential. SC’s core business areas include six business units: Metal Products;

Transportation & Construction Systems; Infrastructure; Media & Digital; Living Related & Real

Estate; and Mineral Resources, Energy, Chemical & Electronics, and one initiative: Energy



Our corporate message, “Enriching lives and the world”, was created to encapsulate our vision

for sustainability in the next 100 years. Our business, as well as our relationship with our

stakeholders, has expanded on a global scale. Our mission is to grow sustainably alongside

society, pursue development for the world, and enable better lives for all.

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About iHUB

iHUB Kenya is a globally recognized innovation center that has been the main catalyst for regional technology acceleration and a role model for tech hubs in emerging markets since 2010. iHUB is committed to playing a critical role in leapfrogging the African technology entrepreneurship scene by creating an environment of trust and experimentation that facilitates the growth of entrepreneurs and their companies. 

iHUB is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Africa’s leading innovation hub, Co-creation Hub (CcHUB). Other companies within the group include CcHUB Nigeria, CcHUB DesignLab Rwanda, CcHUB Namibia, Growth Capital by CcHUB and CcHUB Syndicate. All these subsidiary companies contribute to stimulating innovation and technology application towards achieving social impact across diverse sectors. 

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