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Safaricom Ltd. is a mobile telecommunications company that focuses on transforming lives and communities through technological innovations. Safaricom uses wireless and data technology to assist in famine relief, provide economic empowerment to 25 million Kenyan citizens with mobile banking and quality education to children that have sought refuge along with their families in Kenya.
Safaricom supplies telecommunications services, including the renowned M-Pesa mobile banking innovation, to 25 million customers of Kenya's 40+ million residents. The mobile banking breakthrough enables 80% financial inclusion as compared to 20% financial inclusion prior to M-Pesa. M-Pesa empowers small businesses to thrive, gives people the ability to transfer money to friends and family, and greatly expands the way customers pay for services and utilities. M-Pesa is one of Safaricom’s successes that have enabled the company to invest in a number of projects including famine relief and Instant Network Schools.
In 2011, there was a famine in Northern Kenya. Safaricom began a program called “Kenyans for Kenya” to give money to the Kenya Red Cross to assist those affected by the famine. The participation was incredible with 13 donations coming in per second - everything from little kids giving lunch money to corporate donations. Using the M-Pesa system, “Kenyans for Kenya” was the largest-to-date public fund raising project collecting a billion shillings, or $9,845,340 American dollars, in four weeks. The success of “Kenyans for Kenya” birthed additional long term projects including green houses, boring holes for water and generating open air markets.
Safaricom seeks to uplift communities and invest in the future, including children. Kenya hosts the largest refugee camps on the continent of people from many different areas of Africa. Some classrooms have as many as 200 students, and schools have limited resources. In an effort to give students a quality education, Safaricom, along with Vodafone and Huawei, have partnered with the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR) to provide Instant Network Schools, which are an innovation to assist children in Kenyan refugee camps using wifi connectivity and online content.
Instant Network Schools were developed and implemented two years ago to provide students with a quality education by using technology, video conferencing, and mentorship. The new world of learning has generated an excitement in the students. Safaricom and its partners have added computer labs to Instant Network Schools, and are working towards providing personal tablets for the students.
Instant Network Schools provide leadership lessons via video conference. Mentors that have participated in the video conferencing include global leaders to inspire hope, such as the youngest Nobel Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai, the CEOs of Unilever, Vodafone, and Huawei and Bob Collymore, who shared how he grew up in Guyana and is now the CEO of Safaricom. The mentor speaks for 30 minutes followed by a 20-30 minute question and answer session.
In an effort to restore dignity to the parents of the students that attend Instant Network Schools, Safaricom has partnered with the World Food Program (WFP) to assist in providing food for the refugee families. Previously, refugees had to stand in line to receive food from the WFP. With the M-Pesa platform, the WFP adds a monthly entitlement to mobile phones which allows refugees the decency of going to the store to purchase the food of their choice instead of standing in line at a truck to receive food. Additionally, the use of the mobile phone system increased the operational efficiency of the WFP distribution process and ensures that people receive the allocated WFP resources.
The mission of Safaricom is to transform lives with products and services and community interactions that result in community transformation, knowledge and application of what is possible do and what value can be added to each transaction. Sanda Ojiambo, Head of Corporate Responsibility at Safaricom, contends that poverty is due to a lack of choice and a lack of information and hopes that poverty can be eradicated with choice and information to bridge inequality. Sanda hopes that we can reach a place where we do not have a developed and an undeveloped world, just a world free of gender, racial and housing discrimination, where all children have access to a quality education.
Safaricom strives to reduce inequality by creating innovations to address the challenges that people face and give them hope. By offering mobile banking through Safaricom, the M-Pesa mobile banking system has decreased crime since people do not carry money, bridges the inequality gap with 80% financial inclusion, and helps to restore dignity to refugees that had to leave their homes and settle in a foreign land. Instant Network Schools provide hope for students and let them know that there are people that care for them. The Instant Network Schools project is a model that Safaricom hopes can be replicated and implemented in other areas and countries giving all students the opportunity of a quality education using wifi connectivity and technology.
Safaricom has revolutionized the social economic landscape of Kenya with M-Pesa. Small businesses have a method of purchasing supplies as well as receiving payments from customers. M-Pesa contributes 27% of Kenya's GDP and has increased the country's middle class. Instead of standing in line for monthly food distribution, the use of the M-Pesa system by refugees using the downloaded monthly food entitlements from World Food Program (WFP) increases local merchant sales. The ease of mobile money transfers is producing a flowing economy.
Safaricom's quest to transform lives is a glowing example of social entrepreneurship using business to connect, build, and transform people, communities, and the world through education, innovation, and interactions. M-Pesa mobile banking has decreased crime and increased peace since many people do not have to carry cash. M-Pesa provides a safe and secure method of transacting money for purchasing, paying bills, or sending money across the country to loved ones. The increased financial inclusion has provided parents the ability to use M-Pesa to pay for their children's education and expectant mothers to save their money in their mobile account to pay for hospital services when it is time for the birth of their children.
The success of Safaricom's business has enabled the company to partner with Vodafone and Huaiwei and the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR) to provide Instant Network Schools with wifi technology for children in refugee camps to receive a quality education. Children's educational development benefits not only the children and their families, but society and the world as a whole. Education yields opportunities and choices that would have been limited otherwise. Knowledge increases the prospects of people to invest in their communities, decreases crime, and fuels a productive society.
A number of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are being accomplished through Safaricom's innovations. M-Pesa assists in promoting peace and justice with SDG 16 and SDG 9 with innovation, by providing a safe and secure method of transferring money through mobile banking. Global goals 1, eliminating poverty, and 10, reducing inequality, are addressed with M-Pesa enabling 80% of financial inclusion for Kenyans. In addition to Instant Network Schools providing quality education, which is global goal 4, knowledge through education also helps to eliminate poverty and reduces inequality. Famine relief promoted peace and justice, reduced inequality, and global goal 2 of zero hunger with the "Kenyans for Kenya" project.
The conscious effort and focus of Safaricom in helping others in multiple ways makes Safaricom an outstanding, socially responsible company. Safaricom is a leader in Kenya, and a shining example of a corporation using creative innovations to make the world a better place by investing in people and communities.
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Sanda Ojiambo, Head of Corporate Responsibility