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Kenyan startups seem to be treading on fertile grounds. Kenyan operator, Safaricom, has revealed a US$1-million venture fund aimed at assisting the development of mobile applications in Kenya.
The fund has been set up for two years with possibility of extension and will be offered to mobile ICT startups based in Kenya. This will be done through equity investment in their business or in the form of other debt instruments. According to Safaricom, startups will be eligible to receive amounts between US$75 000 and US$250 000.
The funds will be administered together with the international tech fund TBL Invest, which was appointed by Safaricom as the principal Fund Managers. All startups application will be subject to approval from a cross functional Investment Committee made up of Safaricom management, TBL Invest and external industry expert.
Joe Ogutu, director of strategy and innovation at Safaricom noted that funding’s important to nurture the Kenyan startup culture:
We see this as a much-needed catalyst that will help actualise our aspiration to nurture a vibrant ICT economy in Kenya. It will directly address the key start-up and developers’ pain points such as the cost and speed of accessing a platform where they can test their solutions.
The launch of the fund said Safaricom follows a number of initiatives that it has executed over the last 12 months to support the innovation ecosystem in Kenya, including the development of an annual mobile app competition known as Appwhiz.
Other requirements suggest that startups must initially have a working product or service with an active user base that demonstrates their ability to create transformative solutions. The company also said that each application must be based within Kenya.
Startups needs to provide a use case demonstrating local market potential as well as have an identified market segment and have adequate talent to see the project through its goals.