‘Sustainability is a journey, not a destination.’
As has been the tradition since 2012, Safaricom released its annual Sustainability Report. For many, the question has always been why they do it? There is no legal or regulatory obligation to release the report. In regards to the why, Steve Chege, Director of Cooperate Affairs during the launch said, ‘We do it because it is the most intimate and accurate account of our business.’
The report focuses on activities and risks that are both of material importance to the business and of interest to their shareholders. This year, as the company embarked on its integration of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), they aligned their efforts with five goals which are decent work and economic growth, Innovation and infrastructure, reduced inequalities, peace, justice and strong institutions and partnerships. Their statistics and activity this year include;
In response to the SDG strategy, one of the company’s resolves is to manage their environmental impact. In line with this, they reported a 2.7% decrease in the use of petrol and diesel due to use of other energy efficient resources. However, before we can celebrate, the water and electricity usage went up by 2% and 8% respectively. Due to this, they developed an energy policy which will guide and focus the use of alternate clean energy.
The company also made a commitment to a net zero carbon emitting by 2050. This year, they reported a decrease in the emission of carbon into the environment. The company had also set their sights on raising awareness of clean energy solutions for the home. This year, they exposed about 4000 staff members to numerous domestic energy efficiency solutions available from our business partners such as Huawei, Delta Green Solutions, and Broadband.
Their year ended with a closing employee count of 5,085 with 4,245 of permanent staff which is a slight decrease from last year. The highest percentage of staff was in the 30’s age bracket followed by the 20’s. This is a remarkable show of companies employing more youth.
The company boasted of an equitable distribution between men and women in the permanent staff. However, those statistics did not reflect on the executive leadership with 75% being men and a relatively low 25% of women. The same trend was seen in the senior management with men being at a 69% and women at 31%. There was also a slight pay advantage for men in the executive leadership as opposed to women. According to Bob Collymore, CEO Safaricom, there is still so much to do on the front of gender equality.
This is another of the five goals the company had chosen to concentrate on this year. As the country’s biggest telecommunication company, there is need to constantly innovate so as to keep in touch with the needs of their customers. This year there were able to raise about 7 billion in revenue for their mobile data. The company also increased their 4G mobile data coverage by 9% in 7 major towns; Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Kisii, Eldoret, Nakuru, and Meru.
Their M-PESA service has continued to grow and drive a deeper financial inclusion with their revenue taking a leap from 41.5 million to 55.1 million in 2017. That is a true testament to the growing movement towards cashless transactions. M-PES kadogo which is a service that saw the company charge no service fee for transactions lower than KES 100 has also contributed to their position as pioneers in entrenching financial inclusion in the country. In business, a small move can bring huge returns.
The company’s need to promote Social innovation in order to transform and contribute to sustainable living in Kenya has led to the growth of projects. These projects include M-TIBA which is a health payment application that enables low-income earners to save towards their healthcare. The application has over 46,500 active users. There has also been the development of Instant Network Schools (INS) which is a program that provides each class of teachers and students with 25 tablets, a laptop, projector and speaker, free internet connectivity and Wi-Fi. This program benefits over 41,844 in refugee camps all over the East Africa region.
The M-PESA Foundation Academy which is a state of the art, co-educational and residential high school continues to grow with a total of 297 students. These students are economically disadvantaged children who have demonstrated leadership potential.
On health which is SDG3, Safaricom through the M-PESA Foundation funds the Uzazi Salama. This is a service that funds maternal healthcare and new-born health and aims to improve access to better maternal health services in Samburu County. Safaricom has also done its share in youth economic empowerment. We are in an era where the unemployment among the youth is extremely high. The Safaricom Foundation Micro-Loan Fund is a fund that provides loans to marginalized groups in 13 counties across Kenya. The fund provides interest-free loans of up to 200,000 with repayment periods of up to 24 months. This way, the youth can fund their entrepreneurial ideas. The loans have continued to increase incomes and create jobs and ultimately transform lives.
During the launch, the company through their leaders expressed that they still have a long way to go. They, however, remain proud of the work they have done thus far. They also encouraged other companies to embark on this journey with them in ensuring that no one gets left behind!