• Society

We consider our society to be, first and foremost, the Kenyan people and then the broader regional and global community in which we operate. We take pride in being a responsible corporate member of Kenyan society and remain committed to working closely with Kenyans to be a respected and empowering contributor to the social and economic landscape of the country. We acknowledge that the society that surrounds us is an integral part of who we are and our success, providing us with a conducive operating environment and a market for our products and services.

We take our broader corporate role and responsibilities very seriously and consider every Kenyan citizen to be a member of our society. As a result, the needs and expectations of our society extend beyond those of our customers and include: helping to promote and preserve Kenyan culture and art; safeguarding the natural heritage of the nation and operating in an environmentally friendly manner; partnering with government, communities, NGOs and individuals to empower and uplift our fellow Kenyans; providing access to health, education and financial services; as well as providing access to transformative mobile communications solutions.


The integration of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into the business has strengthened our relationship with Kenyan society during the year. The SDGs have deepened our collective sense of purpose as a business and further entrenched our commitment to deliver more value to society in general, as well as to the specific communities within which we operate.

The SDGs have also helped us appreciate that lasting solutions need to be commercially viable and based on feasible economic models if they are to be scalable and sustainable. The integration of the SDGs has taught us to regard sustainable development as an exciting business response to the challenges we face as a society and not simply an exercise in Corporate Social Investment (CSI).

The SDGs now serve as a guiding compass in all that we do as a business. The integration process has helped the Business Units link specific projects and initiatives back to the SDGs and to consider the value being delivered to society through their activities. The SDGs have also guided our research and investment efforts, particularly in terms of exploring opportunities in the areas of Health, Education and Clean Energy (see the Social Innovation section on page 44 of this report for further details on our efforts in this regard). The SDGs have made us a more value and purpose-driven business.


We deliver value to the society within which we operate on an ongoing basis as a top Kenyan tax payer and employer, and by engaging and empowering groups and individuals throughout the country in a variety of diverse ways. The services we provide through our network enhance and transform the lives of Kenyans every day, we also sponsor community events, and have an active CSI programme through the Safaricom and the MPESA Foundations. Along with these ongoing channels, a few of the specific ways in which we have delivered value to Kenyan society during the year included:

The CEO Sustainability Masterclass

Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore (pictured right), and Global B Team CEO, Keith Tuffley, in the opening discussion on embracing sustainable development as a source of competitive advantage and the role of B Team in driving sustainability leadership at the Better Business, Better World regional conference in February 2017.

In December 2016, we hosted a successful masterclass conference on the key global sustainability challenges facing businesses and the need for bold leadership and proactive responses to ensure continued success. A highlight of the one-day event was a thought-provoking session on Thinking the Unthinkable by Nik Gowing. The event was attended by 29 C-suite executives from Kenya and culminated in the proposal to form a local B Team –Africa, which is an exciting alliance of business leaders from across the region who believe that the purpose of business is to be a driving force for social and environmental, as well as economic, benefit and who are committed to driving a better way of doing business for the wellbeing of both people and planet.

Better Business, Better World Conference

The Africa launch of the Better Business, Better World report by the Business and Sustainable Development Commission (BSDC). Pictured, from left: Vineet Rai, BSDC Commissioner and Founder of Aavishkaar and Intellecap Group; Lord Mark MallochBrown, Chair of the BSDC; Hon. Adan Mohammed, EGH, Cabinet Secretary for Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives, Kenya; and Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore.

In February 2017, we hosted the Better Business, Better World Conference in partnership with the Business and Sustainable Development Commission. The event brought together over 80 business leaders to build support for the SDGs and showcase how African business leaders and entrepreneurs can unlock over US$ 1.2 trillion in savings and revenue and more than 85 million jobs if they pursue sustainable business models. The Conference was also the official launch of the B Team –Africa.

Global Goals World Cup

Team Pepea from Safaricom in action during the Global Goals World Cup in Nairobi at Ligi Ndogo.

We were delighted to co-sponsor and participate in the regional Global Goals World Cup (GGWC) in March 2017. The soccer tournament brought together 24 teams of women and adolescent girls, each playing for an SDG about which they felt passionate, and highlighted the need for urgent, collective action to address the goals. #TeamPepea from Safaricom played for SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities. The celebrity referee, Game of Thrones actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who is also a UNDP Goodwill Ambassador, added the excitement at the event. The teams were playing for the chance to play in the GGWC Global Finals in New York City in September 2017. Our Team Pepea raised awareness about SDG10 on and off the pitch calling for equal rights for refugees and people with disabilities; gender equality in all spheres and improved access to basic services.

Keeping anti-corruption on the local agenda

As part of our ongoing focus on tackling corruption, it was rewarding to be part of the coalition that helped draft Kenya’s new anti-bribery legislation. We are delighted to report that the Bribery Act has been signed into law and came into force in January 2017. The Act is an important step towards addressing the issues of corrupt practices in Kenya as it provides a more robust system for preventing bribery, including obligations on individuals holding positions of authority in Kenyan companies or companies operating in Kenya to report instances of bribery and obligations on companies to put in place bribery prevention policies and measures.

2016 Sustainable Finance Catalyst Awards

We were honoured to be recognised for our achievements in ‘Sustainability Through Policy and Governance’ at the inaugural Sustainable Finance Catalyst Awards in September 2016. Launched by the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA), the umbrella body of the Kenyan banking industry, the purpose of the Awards is to highlight and celebrate organisations that demonstrate leadership and innovation in balancing the quest for financial returns with the diverse priorities of our mutual economic, social and environmental context.

Protecting the rights of children

During the year, we continued to raise awareness of the rights of children. Our Children’s Rights and Business Principles Policy is now shared with all new employees as part of their induction. Children’s rights have also now been included in the Code of Ethics for suppliers. We were also asked to contribute to the Tackling Childcare case study by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), which will highlight best practices in employer-supported childcare and the related benefits when published. Our Regulatory and Public Policy team was also asked to participate in the developing of industry guidelines for Child Online Protection (COP) with the Communications Authority.

Africa Sustainability Leadership Programme (ASLP)

Hosted by the Centre for Sustainability Leadership at the Strathmore Business School, the annual ASLP programme offers participants five days of intensive lectures and group work analysing a range of sustainability challenges and opportunities. Twenty-one participants from both the public and private sectors attended the training course during the year.

Environmental Conservation

A major contributor to global warming and climate change, deforestation is a significant environmental concern for Kenya. Two of the main causes of the massive deforestation the nation has experienced during the last 50 years have been demand for arable land for farming and the unsustainable exploitation of forest resources and products, such as wood for fuel and animal meat for food.

The Mau Eburu forest represented 40% of forest cover in Kenya in the 1960s, but has since shrunk to represent less than 25%. The 8,715 hectare forest forms one of the largest water catchment areas in the country and supplies water to many of the lakes that support life across the Rift Valley. It is also a haven for wildlife. The forest is home to a diverse multitude of bird species and over 40 mammal species, including the critically endangered mountain bongo antelope. Mau Eburu forest is one of the most pristine, important and rich forest ecosystems in Kenya, but it is also extremely vulnerable. The forest is surrounded on all sides by settlements and the inevitable human encroachment through plantations, excisions and logging (the illegal charcoal trade, in particular) has taken its toll.

As part of a comprehensive plan to protect the imperiled Mau Eburu forest, the M-PESA Foundation has provided funding for the construction of a 50 kilometre perimeter fence around the defenseless ‘island’ of biodiversity. The electrified fence is being constructed in partnership with the Rhino Ark Trust. The fencing allows the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) to manage access to the forest through specific gates, enabling the KFS to generate important revenue for conservation activities by collecting the prescribed fees for activities like livestock grazing and firewood harvesting, as well as reducing the negative impact of unsupervised access and human-wildlife conflict.

The comprehensive plan also includes promoting alternative energy sources and economic activities to the communities that live around the forest. Part of the long-term answer is to reduce the dependence of local communities on fuel wood extracted from the forest and one innovative solution is the energy-efficient jiko stove. It not only uses up to 50% less fuel, but can also run on any woody biomass, including farm waste like maize cobs. Another solution has been to expose local communities to beekeeping and honey production as an alternative source of income to burning wood to create charcoal. Tree nurseries have also been established within local communities and members have been taught how to plant and manage sustainable woodlets. Funds have also been used to develop educational learning materials to teach youngsters at local Eburu schools the importance of conservation and protecting the forest.

Safaricom staff and local communities residing near Mau Eburu Forest take part in an annual tree planting exercise, which is part of ongoing efforts to restore the Mau Forest Complex.
Students at the Mpesa Foundation Academy conduct a demonstration in the lab during a visit by Safaricom’s Senior Leadership Team.

M-Pesa Foundation Academy

The M-PESA Foundation Academy is a state-of-the-art, co-educational and residential high school providing a world class education based on the Kenyan curriculum. Driven by leadership, entrepreneurship, technology and innovation, the Academy currently serves 297 talented, but economically disadvantaged students with demonstrated leadership potential. Located along Thika-Mang’u Road in Kiambu County, the Academy offers a world-class, well-rounded learning environment to develop the future leaders of the African continent.

The Academy places great emphasis on the holistic development of all its learners, not just in academics, but also in technology, music, sports, the arts, outdoor pursuits and community service. Learners and faculty are exposed to the latest in technology in education with the use of Apple Learning Solutions and iPads as part of the day-to-day teaching and learning.

The Academy focuses on molding future leaders and entrepreneurs by incorporating the core values of Curiosity, Leadership, Accountability, Innovation, Responsible Citizenship and Excellence (CLAIRE) into every sphere of learning within the Academy.

The Academy’s modern campus is established on 75 acres, which allows for a conducive learning environment, as well as an opportunity for all learners to grow their talents in all areas, including arts, sports and music. We believe in providing world-class quality education and empowering young minds. The Academy has a dedicated team of teaching and non-teaching staff all who are passionate in nurturing the students.

Maternal And Child Healthcare

The number of women who die from pregnancy-related causes in Kenya remains unacceptably high. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), it is 530 women per 100,000 births. In comparison, the maternal mortality rate in Canada is 7 women per 100,000 births. The WHO rate for Kenya translates into around 14,700 Kenyan women and girls dying each year due to pregnancy-related complications.

Maternal deaths are only half of the story, however, and as many as 441,000 women and girls will suffer each year from disabilities caused by complications during pregnancy and childbirth, such as obstetric fistula, a ruptured uterus or pelvic inflammatory disease. The mortality rates for new-born babies and children under five years old are equally alarming. The mortality rate for children under five years old in Kenya is 86 children per 1,000 and over a third of these are new-born babies. The tragedy is that most of these deaths — mothers and children — can be prevented through access to straightforward, cost-effective healthcare services.

‘Uzazi Salama’ (‘Safe Motherhood’) is an M-PESA Foundation funded Maternal and New-born Health (MNH) project aimed at improving access to better maternal health services in Samburu County. The project addresses both the demand and supply side of issue by encompassing both the renovating and equipping of a network of 55 health facilities throughout the County and improving the patient referral system between the facilities. The patient referral system is centred around a new Ambulance Command Centre, which uses ride-hailing technology to orchestrate a fleet of ambulances, 4×4 vehicles and tricycles to transport patients to the services they need. As well as training and upskilling health workers initially, the project also includes the deployment of mobile phone-based e-learning solutions to ensure continuous learning among health workers going forward. Creating awareness and mobilising local communities has also been a feature of the project, especially encouraging men to support clinic-based maternal and child care services for mothers and their babies. The project will improve the maternal and child health care for over 224,000 people in Samburu County.

Economic Empowerment

Unemployment is considered a leading economic policy challenge in Kenya. At the forefront of this challenge lies the high unemployment rate among young people, which is estimated by the World Bank Group to be double the national level of unemployment and around 17.3%; hence, most of the
unemployed people disproportionately stem from the youth segment of the population and belong to the bottom 40 percent of the income distribution. Many of these young people could lift themselves out of poverty through training in entrepreneurship education, as well as support to establish micro and smallscale enterprises; however, opportunities for entrepreneurial training remain few and far between and access to funding for micro and small-scale enterprises remains minimal.

A response to this challenge, the Safaricom Foundation Micro-Loan Fund is a fund that provides loans to financially marginalised and excluded groups in 13 Counties across Kenya. The Fund provides interest-free loans of up to KES 200,000 with repayment periods of between three and 24 months. The loans are available to people aged 18 years and older. To date, KES 23,393,000 has been loaned to create 5,937 jobs in a wide variety of industries, including farming, transport, retail, catering, horticulture and events management. There is an extensive training period before the loans are issued and ongoing support for the businesses. The loans have increased incomes, created jobs and transformed lives.

Looking Ahead


  • Developing a new 3-year strategy for the Safaricom Foundation.
  • Leveraging off partnerships to build an integrated SDGs ecosystem with our partners across the country.
  • Supporting the B-Team Africa to establish structures, develop a road map and recruit membership from across the continent.
  • Deepening the embedding of Sustainability and the SDGs among our dealers and suppliers. We have identified SDGs 8, 10 and 12 as the most material for our dealers and plan to work on a pilot with five of our biggest dealers in terms of developing commitments and action plans based on these three goals.