Safaricom’s Simu ya Jamii was launched 2003. One of the first products of Safaricom Limited, which was a community phone, used by those who could not afford a mobile at the time. Simu ya jamii was the other one that was mostly used in which owners could charge their customers on any call they made through it from the official installed simu ya jamii shops.Any person who wanted those services had to find time to the shops so as to make the call.
A few people in the village had mobile phones but they were scarce and were basically for making or receiving calls,sending or receiving text messages and calculator.Neighbours used to gather in their homestead so as to make a call.Not only that the few who owned were known,they were also respected since they were expensive and most people didnt have information where they could buy one if they felt able to.
Even though there were some available,they were some challenges associated with them. Electricity was a challenge,getting spoiled easily and poor network coverage that made one to seek higher grounds,they were fitted with aerials to receive signals from boosters.
The Safaricom Story
In the year 2000, we began the Safaricom journey with a view to Transform Lives. Safaricom is one of a small group of about 400 companies across Africa whose annual revenues are more than $1 billion. Many of these companies are pan-African in their operations and are active in increasingly diverse sectors.
We invest a unique way of doing business through our Purpose; to ‘Transform Lives’. We seek to create opportunities for Kenyans to be a part of our growth story by empowering them with the right tools for economic growth. The “Simu ya Jamii” innovation allowed Kenyans to earn money from operating small, mobile pay phones. We currently have 42 million customers on our network and close to 29 million using M-PESA service.
We achieve our Transforming Lives vision through a number of channels, but the origin of our most impactful transformation stories is the base station. We now have over 4,000 towers connecting Kenyans from Turbo to Turkana with each one of these base stations having its own unique story to tell.
Through our Foundation, we work to enable Kenyans access quality healthcare, education, skills and sustainable employment by providing resources, opportunity, hope and dignity to communities. Our current strategy builds on our strong history of results and partnerships and aims to contribute towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The Kapedo Base Station Story
This base station was put up in the heart of the Great Rift Valley, in the town of Kapedo, which is deep in what is called the valley of death. For years, the resident communities had been engaged in daily inter-tribal clashes. After months of deliberation and negotiation, we were finally able to put up a base station in the area. We discovered that the base station created more than just access to a mobile phone signal. It became a source of power for the first time for the community. It also provided a lifeline to help the community alert security agencies when threatened. It became the link that enables residents to get access to healthcare services, which can be delivered through mobile solutions. It created opportunities for children to access education, just like other children located anywhere else in Kenya. One base station can Transform Lives.
Partnerships that Transform Communities
Through our partnerships with various groups, we are delivering more than just voice or data to communities across Kenya.
M-TIBA was developed out of strategic partnership between CarePay, PharmAccess Foundation and Safaricom. It leverages our respective strengths to deliver healthcare solutions to over 100,000 Kenyans through 60 health care providers all for less than Kshs.300.
We have also partnered with the Government numerous times to extend more services to the Kenyan citizen by digitising primary schools, connecting health centres, streamlining payments to farmers and much more. By working with Eneza Education, we are enabling over 1 million children to access interactive educational material through the very simplest of mobile phones. Children from Class Four all the way to Form 4 can chat live with a teacher through either USSD or SMS, an online web app, an offline desktop app, or an Android app.
Food through M-PESA
In the camps of Kakuma and Daadab, M-PESA is restoring dignity to thousands of refugees. Through a partnership with the World Food Programme, we are leveraging M-PESA to help more refugees access food, through a product known as Chakula Chap Chap. M-PESA has enabled us to digitize food delivery for over 100,000 households. It has removed the opportunity for corruption by eliminating middle-men, and reduced the cost of distributing relief aid, creating employment and business opportunities for people in refugee camps. This initiative has shown us that our business can help bridge critical gaps for our society.
One of the biggest challenges facing our business today is how to create sustainable growth and at the same time leave no Kenyan behind in our growth story. This is why we adopted nine out of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to help guide our company into the next phase of its growth.
The SDGs are humanity’s shared vision of the actions that we need to take to create growth for everyone to benefit, and thus form a social contract between the world’s leaders and our people. Safaricom was the first Kenyan company to integrate sustainability deep into the core of our every business decision. We are using the SDGs to transform and boost the success of our business and enhance our Transforming Lives agenda.
Relevant Solutions that Transform Lives
We have delivered solutions such as the Safaricom App, M-PESA Super App and Hakikisha, which gives our customers more control over how they use our network. We became the first operator in the world to introduce real time refunds for call drops. Since launch of the Safaricom Guarantee service in May 2016, the number of recorded uncompleted calls on the network registered at less than 0.14% of total calls. More importantly, this activity has given us an unprecedented view of our customers that helps us to ensure that our services remain relevant and optimised for this market.
We introduced My Data Manager, which is now being used by our subscribers to manage their data consumption. Customers are now paying less for data, which allows every shilling to go further.
Growing with our partners
We have made a conscious choice to grow with our partners, who are using our mobile platform to deliver unique services that meet the needs of Kenyans. We have co-created first-of-their-kind solutions alongside partners like Craft Silicon to produce the taxi hailing app, Little; as well as partnering with M-Survey to roll out a customer feedback solution.
Through our Spark Fund, we have invested in growing companies such as Lynk and Sendy to build the profile of new industries based on mobile and e-commerce. These engagements have allowed us to diversify our income to meet the needs of more customers, and have led to a shift in our revenues that we expect will characterise the company for years to come.
Building a network for the future
In March 2021, we activated 5G service to be expanded to 150 sites across nine towns over a period of 12 months. We aim to empower our customers with super-fast internet at work, at home and on the move, supplementing our growing fibre network. Years back, we made a commitment to deliver the network of the future through 4G, which is now at 96% coverage across Kenya. We are now approaching 6,000 4G stations.
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