This is 2020, a few years ago in its IPO prospectus document; Safaricom had 9.2 million subscribers as at the end of 2007. Fast word, the company now has 35 million customers. In product development, there is something called the toothbrush test. Is this something you will use once or twice a day, and does it make your life better? Millions of Kenyans would say YES to this question. Safaricom has immersed itself into the lives of Kenyans from helping them keep in touch with each other to allowing them to socially support each when in need. According to the outgoing CEO Michael Joseph, Safaricom has ramped up its investment in IT capabilities, with an objective of mapping a monetization path in critical verticals such as agriculture, health, education and eCommerce.
In agriculture, Safaricom’s flagship product, DigiFarm has over a million farmers on its platform with more than 300,000 being 30-day active customers. Digifarm is an integrated agriculture platform that helps agribusinesses and smallholder farmers share information and transact. DigiFarm’s buyer-driven model seeks to drive behaviour change by encouraging smallholder farmers to grow crops based on market demand. Safaricom has 100% ownership of this subsidiary. According to the Kenyan National Bureau 2020 Economic Survey, Agriculture remained the dominant sector in Kenya in 2019, accounting for slightly over 30% of the GDP of Kenya.
Financial Services sector
With the increased uptake and shift to cashless transactions, Safaricom continues to drive money transactions, savings and lending products on mobile. It had over 24.9 million 30-Days M-PESA customers. The Company launched Mpesa Global in 2018 in its push to take M-PESA beyond Kenya’s borders. M-PESA Global includes partnerships with Google, PayPal and Western Union to enable seamless international money transfer and payments. Safaricom and Vodacom have completed the acquisition of the M-PESA brand, product development and support services from Vodafone through a newly-created joint venture, with 50-50 share ownership. This will help M-PESA expand into other countries in Africa.
In January 2019, the company launched Fuliza, the world’s first overdraft on mobile. It is a purpose lending product that allows M-PESA customers to complete transactions even if they have insufficient funds in their M-PESA accounts.
The company has also entered into a partnership with Visa to further enrich their payments value proposition. “We are delighted to partner with Visa in exploring products that will support both our customers and Lipa Na M-PESA merchants. This partnership will play an important role in delivering even more value to our customers, linking them to even more opportunities especially in global e-commerce,” said Peter Ndegwa, CEO, Safaricom
Affordable and Clean Energy
In 2019, Safaricom acquired 18.96% stake in Circle Gas. Circle Gas provides clean cooking to low-income earners through M-Gas. “Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.” The company is committed to clean and affordable energy. It is transitioning to the use of clean energy in its network sites and leveraging technology to provide clean energy solutions, including payment solutions for local and renewable energy solutions. In partnership with M-Kopa Solar, the company has provided access to solar energy to over 500,000 households with a positive impact on 2.4 million lives.
The company believes in and promotes quality education for all: “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” Its contribution to expanding access to education through innovative solutions using its network and through partnerships has resulted in several products and initiatives. It has unstructured service supplementary data (USSD) and SMS service.
Shupavu291, which enables students and teachers to take quizzes, search subjects to study and access Wikipedia summaries without an internet connection. It has become very relevant during COVID19 pandemic period where there has been an upsurge with over 200,000 students taking a lesson daily.
The M-PESA Foundation Academy provides 700 economically disadvantaged students access to a high-quality education through world-class learning facilities, focused on building leadership and entrepreneurship skills.” Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”, the late Nelson Mandela, former president of South and Nobel Peace Laureate, 1993.
In the health sector, the company’s key product is known as M-TIBA. M-TIBA is a mobile-based health proposition developed in partnership with CarePay and PharmAccess. It provides easier access to affordable healthcare for Kenyans on a lower income. M-TIBA enables customers to register for NHIF, the government-run health insurance scheme and provides an electronic wallet system to help them save towards healthcare. The e-wallet enables users to save towards healthcare expenses from as little as KSh 10.