Safaricom has selected Sendy, a Nairobi-based package delivery firm, as the first beneficiary of its $1 million (Sh102 million) Spark Fund, which supports local mobile technology start-ups.
Sendy will get an investment of up to Sh22 million from Safaricom to help it scale up its business, with the telecoms operator taking an undisclosed minority stake in the start-up in return.
Launched in September last year, Sendy links parcel senders to a network of transporters using motorcycle, vans and pick-up trucks to deliver goods in Nairobi and its environs.
The Sendy app offers convenience and enhances senders’ experience by allowing them to keep track of the goods in transit through live updates.
“Having Safaricom believe in us enough to come on board as an investor is a big boost to our business,” Sendy’s chief executive Meshack Alloys said in a statement.
“We intend to use the funds received to invest in our infrastructure, improve our platform, roll out new features and services and grow our team so that we can provide an even better customer experience.”
Sendy will also ride on Safaricom to grow its network, explore new markets and access strategic partnerships.
The company crowd-sources transporters, trains and connects them with GPS-enabled tracking and dispatching system that helps senders to trail the parcel electronically.
“We are excited to be partnering with Safaricom not only on the investment side, but also on the technical side,” said Mr Alloys.
“We’ve been using M-Pesa as our main payment collection method since we launched Sendy and we’re pleased to announce that next week we’ll be releasing a new seamless payment checkout process that will work directly through Safaricom’s newly released M-Pesa interface.”
The pitch by Sendy is among 400 applications that Safaricom received since launching the fund in November last year. Evaluation of other beneficiaries of the fund is ongoing.
Only Kenyan-based start-ups who prove the effectiveness of their invention qualify for funding.
“For us to invest in a start-up, we need to believe that both the product or service and management have the potential to scale and become number one or two player in their chosen field,” said Eline Blaauboer, managing partner at private equity firm TBL Invest that manages the fund.