It has been a demanding year for Safaricom. In this wide-ranging interview Bob Collymore, CEO of Safaricom, discusses the progress the company has made towards its sustainability commitments and offers his perspective on the important link between shared value thinking, reducing inequalities and commercial sustainability. This interview was conducted in May 2019 and is published posthumously.

You have spoken about the importance of Shared Value thinking as a way of guiding sustainable business activity. How do you define Shared Value and why do you consider it such an important guiding concept?

From a sustainability perspective, “Shared Value” is an established and important concept. It highlights why sustainable business solutions are more powerful and lasting than extractive or exploitative business practices. As its name implies, the concept emphasises how business, its stakeholders and value chains can come together and deliver products and services in a way that creates new or additional value for everyone involved.

In any case, it is encouraging to see the idea of profit with purpose — of using sound commercial principles to create sustainable economic empowerment and prosperity — being embraced by the business community. We hosted the Africa Shared Value Summit here in Nairobi in May 2019 and it was great to see how well the private sector was represented. It was encouraging to see a large number of CEOs attend in person to drive Shared Value leadership from the top.*

The public sector cannot solve the challenges we are discussing by itself. There is so much the private sector can and needs to do; so many potential partnerships that can be created to unlock extra, sustainable value. I am working with my counterparts in the banking sector, for example, to find ways of creating new entrepreneurial opportunities that will benefit them and us and entrepreneurs.

*We have published the full text of Bob’s speech at the Shared Value Summit under the “Concluding Remarks” section