There is this short documentary video by Safaricom Foundation that I recently watched and it got me thinking – what was hard for the school to mobilise the community to do just what Safaricom did? The video is about Safaricom handing over water tanks in two schools, one in Homabay county, and the other in Kisii county. The tanks that Safaricom handed over costed the foundation around shs 150,000 each. So, why wouldn’t the schools go about breaking barriers the Safaricom way instead of waiting for Safaricom to come to their rescue?
Don’t get me wrong, this is not castigating the good work Safaricom Foundation did to those schools, neither is it discouraging Safaricom Foundation from continuing with the good work it is doing to the community, but rather, challenging the communities to step up and break barriers Safaricom way – and particularly move away from serikali saidia mentality. I’ll be back on this shortly but first let’s talk about some of the barriers Safaricom through Safaricom Foundation and MPESA Foundation, have broken.
Safaricom is giving back the power
Recently Safaricom through MPESA Foundation announced that it will be distributing sanitary towels to some needy 180,000 girls around the country. The sanitary towel distribution drive is part of M-PESA Foundation’s KES 44 million menstrual hygiene programme launched in December 2020 as part of Safaricom’s 20th anniversary celebrations. The programme’s other element includes providing another 30,000 teenage girls in Murang’a, Siaya and Kilifi Counties with sexual and reproductive health education in order to reduce teen pregnancies and improve menstrual care.
It is known that any achievement must come with proper education, but for most girls this proper education cannot be achieved because menstrual hygiene keeps them away from school. When Safaricom through MPESA Foundation funds initiatives aimed at keeping as many girls as possible in schools, that means Safaricom is giving them back the power to achieve more, power for breaking barriers, and in return someday use their Safaricom given opportunity to improve their lives and the lives of others around them.
Through MPESA Foundation, Safaricom has done community based projects such as the MPESA Foundation Academy which is basically an academy that not only provides education to hundreds of needy children at ago, but also provides us with a model instutitutions of how both high schools and post high school instutions ought to be run,
MPESA foundation has done a lot for Kenyans, but Safaricom Foundation has done even more. As of today, Safaricom Foundation has spent some 3 billion shilling on some 1465 projects across the 47 counties, projects that have impacted the lives of some 5 million Kenyans. The projects by Safaricom Foundation also range from health, education, to economic empowerment particularly of the youth, and one such programme is the Wezesha Economic Empowerment Programme “Through our Economic Empowerment programme, we aim to support at least 1,700 youth aged 18-25 years with entry level jobs following successful completion of a 4 to 8 weeks training program in Vocational Training Centers across the country”, states Safaricom Foundation.
In Education, Safaricom Foundation recently opened an ICT Centre at Waithaka TVET, a centre that will witness some 200 students get supported over the next two years. To reach more students, Safaricom Foundation targets to open similar centres in other 11 other institutions across the country that will target to support at least 500 more students.
Lessons about breaking barriers from Safaricom’s success
One thing that’s true is the perception that an African cannot make it, more so if such an African is a Kenyan… and here I am talking about individual people, not corporations. But corporations and individual people aren’t necessarily distinct entities. Mention any successful business person, a dollar billionaire successful, and you’ll realise that person’s success is directly linked to success of his corporate entities. Jeff Bezos’ success is exclusively the success of Amazon, and so is Bill Gates success linked to the success of Microsoft, and the list can go on. And that means if in Kenya we can create successful corporations, it means we can transform lives in ways we haven’t began to imagine.
Before Safaricom became the success it is today, no one knew a Kenyan company could become the most profitable company in the entire East and Central African region. The success of Safaricom is somewhat miraculous as despite being denied the freedom to venture out of Kenya thanks to Vodafone UK that had controlling stake in the company until it sold some of its shares to Vodacom South Africa.
What this means to us is that we too can create success – we can be breaking barriers, for after all we have collectively created Safaricom; and made it a giant corporation capable to revolutionising an entire industry. If we come together, we can for sure make great things happen the Safaricom way. We can come together.
We surely do know how to come together. Upon the death of loved ones, we easily raise hundreds of thousands if not millions to ensure decent burial of those loved ones. In the same spirit, we could organise ourselves to be coming together to assist our education, health, business, and other economic instutions for prosperity. We can ensure the schools we went to never lack classrooms, or desks, or electricity, or water. The water tanks that for example Safaricom Foundation provide to the schools that they have provided them to cost a paltry shs 150,000. If we created WhatsApp groups for installing water tanks in every school that currently doesn’t have any, we for sure can ensure no school lacks water – and that way, we shall have together will be breaking barriers the Safaricom way.