Safaricom shareholders approved the operator’s plans to invest in Kenyan start-ups through a pair of newly established entities, as part of a wider mission to become a technology company by 2025.

In a statement, the operator group noted it received the green light for the plan during an annual general meeting, with the new entities set to put cash in early-stage and mature start-ups in the country. They will also act as the main vehicle for all wider strategic investments.

CEO Peter Ndegwa highlighted seed-stage start-ups focusing on emerging technologies such as AI, analytics and IoT as potentials. Interested parties will be invited to apply in the coming weeks.

Ndegwa added the move reflects a deeper objective to empower Kenya’s technology ecosystem. He expects the creation of the companies will also push the operator into new segments, in turn unlocking new business opportunities.

The formation of the companies builds on Safaricom’s existing venture capital arm Spark Fund, founded in 2015, whose portfolio includes emerging start-ups working across a range of sectors spanning education, green tech and e-commerce.