It would be hard to find somebody in Kenya who doesn’t know about Safaricom. We either use Safaricom products or we have seen adverts on TV. Some even have the Safaricom calendars in their homes. Safaricom Limited comes across as an aggressive business growing its business with its innovative, cutting edge products. It is very easy to think that Safaricom is all about the money, all about the profits. Especially when you hear about profits of 23 billion in after tax profits. In fact today Safaricom Ltd is having its shareholders meeting. But Safaricom has a little known secret, Safaricom has a soft side, a side that is all about giving back to society. The soft side is called the Safaricom Foundation, here it’s all about transforming lives.
Safaricom Foundation launched the strategy for April 2014 – March 2017 last month. The youth come out as the biggest winners as there is a plan to economically empower young Kenyans. Safaricom Foundation aims to use technology in order to do this as this is something they do very well. As part of this programme they aim to give grants to young people instead of loans. This means that the projects that are picked to be part of the program have to structured in such a way that they are sustainable.
The plan includes establishing micro/small scale social enterprises for young people; give them both entrepreneurship and financial training. The idea is to empower youth and change their mindsets that the only jobs are those in formal employment. The aim is to support the youth to become job creators.
Safaricom Foundation is celebrating 11 years of existence. It is the largest corporate foundation in the country. The foundation is part of the strategy of the company to transform lives by changing the ecosystem by giving back and creating long team sustainable development in community.The foundation has so far invested over Ksh. 18 billion in education, health, economic empowerment, arts and music, arts and culture, and the environment. The Safaricom foundation will be investing Ksh. 250 million annually for the next three years for its programs.
The idea of the Safaricom Foundation is to have a shared set of values across the ecosystem and offer hope by creating sustainable projects in partnership with the community which they will them run even after the partnership ends.
Safaricom Foundation will also partner with government and other strategic partners to drive development projects. The foundation does not believe in just getting pope to overcome challenges but also to become independent. The beneficiaries are expected to participate fully and take ownership of their projects.
Another thing that they are keen on is increasing access to equitable and innovative education opportunities especially for the less fortunate members of society including the children with disabilities. This does not only mean supporting the children but also increasing the capacity of teachers who deal with them. Also to provide opportunities to children from nomadic communities to access education.
Arts and culture is also another key area where the foundation aim to identify, protect, preserve and enhance Kenya’s art and culture from the development angle.
Scaling up the development and use of mobile technology for development is also a key area in the new strategic direction.
Other key areas include: providing access to water in water insecure counties; improving the health status of Kenyans: Preserving and protecting the environment; disaster relief as and when required continue to provide funding for humanitarian agencies for disasters and emergencies; and develop as an effective corporate foundation by increasing internal capacity and focusing on their role as a leader in Corporate Social investment which aims to create sustainable projects not just projects that look good on paper.
Bob Collymore said business has obligations and it must meet business needs without compromising next generation to do so. A company cannot be a success in isolation. Safaricom does not only care about the bottom line but also about social value because socially responsible businesses are better and more resilient.
Bob Collymore said that writing cheques is easy but identifying needs and fulfilling them is harder. In this good governance is key. It is also important for companies to partner and learn from others because as he said “when we know better we do better.” CSI should be built into your DNA and part of your company’s DNA. And the leaders should be people who walk the talk.
For those who may not know what Corporate Social Investment is about here is a definition by ehow.com.
Corporate social investing is a strategy for implementing social commitment in a concrete way by using company funds and resources to improve the quality of life in developing or disadvantaged communities. Social responsibility is typically summarized as the “triple bottom line,” which is a model that evaluates the impact of a firm’s policies on people and the environment as well as profit maximization.
Safaricom Foundation’s goal is to transform lives, not just of Safaricom customers but of all Kenyans. According to Bob Collymore if your customer base is economically empowered then they are able to do more for themselves and also have money to spend. Then they would be able to buy your products comfortably.
In the end giving is about creating a circle of life where everybody benefits. And that is what Safaricom Foundation is all about.