Safaricom already has an investment arm, Spark Venture Fund, which has invested in several local startups. However, there are plans to open additional programs that could complement the Fund.
Safaricom has revealed a plan to enter the venture capital game by setting up two new subsidiaries. These subsidiaries will be tasked with identifying and investing in tech startups in Kenya. The telco hopes to inject capital into startups as part of its next growth frontier.
The establishment of the new ventures is subject to shareholders’ approval at the annual general meeting that will be held before the end of July. TechCabal will report on the development of the meeting.
It is unclear whether the two funds will replace Spark Venture Fund, a $1 million fund that invests in late-seed to early-growth stage tech startups in Kenya. However, TechCabal can report that the fund still exists, as it was mentioned towards the end of 2022.
At that time, Safaricom’s chief business development and strategy officer, Michael Mutiga, reaffirmed the significance of the spark fund venture investment boost. The meeting brought together the media and involved an exchange with Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa. Mutiga’s statement emphasised the potential impact of Safaricom’s fund on emergent, young, and seed companies. He acknowledged the inherent risk involved, recognising that some ventures would succeed while others would not. Mutiga expressed hope that by offering diligent support and leveraging their network, Safaricom could contribute to the success of these companies, both financially and in other areas.
The fund was launched in 2014 and has invested in multiple startups, including Sendy, and Ajua, but received applications from over 200 startups.
The fund aims to support the successful development and growth of high-potential mobile tech startups in Kenya. The fund provides investment, business development support, and technical assistance to local and growing startups. The fund also takes advantage of the carrier’s unique capabilities, assets, and market positioning to help its investees scale.
At the announcement of its end-year results, Safaricom’s management emphasised the importance of diversifying revenue streams to counter growing regulatory and operational costs. The telco also aimed to mitigate the decline in voice and messaging business. Safaricom reported a net profit of KES 52.4 billion ($370 million) for the full year ending March 2023, marking a 22.4% drop from last year’s earnings of KES 67.4 billion ($476 million).
Its launch in Ethiopia was also expensive after starting operations in October 2022. The telco is said to have invested $800 million and received a loan of $400 million for its operating license. The business is projected to break even after four years.