3 min read 13 May 21
Innovative mobile solutions, driving social inclusion
Safaricom is the largest Kenyan’s telecoms company that provides integrated telecommunication services, including mobile and fixed voice, data and internet.
It has been able to significantly enhance the penetration of mobile data and mobile services to the point where Kenya is now one of the best-connected countries in Africa.
Safaricom also has the largest mobile payment system in Africa, called M-Pesa. A combination of the Swahili word for money, ‘pesa’ and the ‘M’ for mobile, M-Pesa was born in Kenya as a phone-based alternative to physical bank branches. The service was launched in 2007 by Vodafone and Safaricom, after receiving a grant from the UK’s Department for International Development. The initiative was designed to support financial inclusion efforts globally, and Vodafone and Safaricom initially sought the grant to create a mobile phone-based microfinance service for rural Kenyans. This would allow them to borrow and repay money without having to visit physical banks that could be tens, if not hundreds, of kilometres away.
This cheap, easy-to-use service has evolved since its initial launch, and is now an efficient way of borrowing, transacting and, ultimately, keeping the economy going. M-Pesa has also been a key driver of social inclusion, as people who ordinarily would not be able to open a bank account or have a credit history can now transact using their mobile phones. This also means they are building up credit history, allowing them to get more credit down the line. As a result, Safaricom creates two-fold impact from a social perspective – investing in infrastructure to allow greater mobile reach, while creating financial inclusion through its payments business.
Safaricom also leverages its networks and services in other innovative and beneficial ways for underserved communities. For example, M-Tiba (Mobile Care) aims to improve access to quality and affordable healthcare services, providing an e-wallet health payments solution that enables its current 4.7 million users to save towards healthcare expenses. Safiri Smart, meanwhile, is a disease and epidemic surveillance platform that gives travellers alerts on infections risk. Safaricom is driving access to information and communication, as well as financial inclusion, in a growing African country, and is now looking to do the same outside of its borders.
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All company data sourced from Safaricom . Figures shown were latest available from company literature, as at January 2021.
M&G (Lux) Positive Impact Fund invests in Safaricom.
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