With two editions of the Safaricom #TwawezaLive already completed, thousands of lives have been changed across the Rift Valley and Mount Kenya region. The 10-day Twaweza Live visits to these regions have seen the telco along with Safaricom Foundation engaging with customers on the company’s services, service activations like Blaze campus activations happening, free medical camps and mega concerts to crown it all off.
I spoke to Sanda Ojiambo, head of Corporate Responsibility at Safaricom which covers the Safaricom Foundation, M-PESA Foundation, Sustainable Business and Technology for Development on why they decided to have Twaweza Live all over the country and the impact they hope to achieve.
She is proud of the fact that the Safaricom Foundation provides the opportunity for strategic and long-term partnerships and enjoys working with partners and communities to develop and implement multi-dimensional projects. She also enjoys playing a role in an organization that addresses the gaps between community needs and the required innovations and resources.
What led you as a company to set your focus to a 3 year strategic road map?
“In 2014-2017, we kept our mandate broad, so we were in 8 focus areas and we achieved great things then. Then we sat back and looked at ‘What are the key priorities for Kenya going forward‘, which led us to narrowing down our agenda to 3 main pillars. This will enable us to focus our impact, in the same way you focus a lens, even as we strive to achieve our goals.
How was the impact then?
Our work was received very well. I was and still am proud of the fact that even when you go further than Safaricom’s network grid, you can find a Safaricom Foundation project.
Back then we did a couple of smaller flexible projects, e.g building classrooms, donating X-RAY equipment, putting up healthcare centres and water harvesting tanks etc and it went really well. For our second phase, we want to put up more holistic end-to-end programs which will sort of compliment the shorter term philanthropic ones.
We’re also focused on taking the more strategic approach brings in more partners, ideas and more holistic partnerships to the table.
How will you ensure sustainability of these projects?
One of the things we’ve been doing is spending a lot of time and research in getting to understand the various issues that face certain regions in the country. Different regions come with their own specialities which is something we’ve been mapping out in the past few years, even before we launched the 3 key pillar strategy.
Another thing we’ve done is spending time working with our partners. We cannot do this alone and one key difference from where we used to give grants directly is that this time, we’re working with technical & advisory partners and most importantly county systems to transform lives.
We also sought to find out what the sustainability challenges were in the projects done before and we’ve come up with measures to work around them more efficiently this time round as we have the Twaweza Live series all over the country.
How does the new CSR strategy plug into the Twaweza Live series?
Transforming lives for us is a business issue, we are a telco company but we’re also a responsible business; and that’s what we’re striving to do across the country with Twaweza Live.
With the three year strategy, we have 3 key pillars and 5 key objectives as the Safaricom Foundation, we want to:
I. Be able to improve maternal mortality rates in certain counties where the numbers are exceedingly high.
II. Increase the ability of patients especially young people with diabetes to self manage and also access healthcare. As you’ve seen during the medical camps, we have doctors who not only teach their patients how to live good lives even when diagnosed but also how to implement better and more sustainable lifestyles.
III. We want to ensure kids in school are able to read and write and are functionally literate.
IV. We want to ensure that people can get access to technical vocational training and also show them that it is an attractive option both in their education and their careers.
V. Increase opportunities for gainful employment/self employment for young people.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in the 15 years?
Not being able to do everything in a holistic end-to-end approach which is what led us to stop and look at things differently. I mean building of schools and labs is an amazing thing to do but at the end of the day it doesn’t necessarily guarantee better education outcome.
Unfortunately we don’t have the resources to respond to every situation but we try as much as we can where we can.
Sustainability has also been a challenge which is why we saw it very important to have key partnerships.
At the end of the day, Safaricom exists to Transform Lives and I’m proud that this key purpose has led us to push the traditional boundaries of doing business in order to create more value for society.”