About three years after Safaricom started operations, the company established the Safaricom Foundation, the institution through which the firm would work to build communities and transform lives.
The Foundation was established as the company embarked on a rapid expansion by investing in getting its network across the country. Most companies usually wait until they are firmly established to establish foundations, and Safaricom was thus going against the grain.
Michael Joseph, the founding Chief Executive Officer, would later explain that the decision was deliberate as the leadership at the time was keen on having the company play a significant role in the community.
“It was a fundamental decision of ours to have Corporate Social Responsibility as a significant part of Safaricom. It was all because I believe that companies should invest in their communities and make a difference,” Michael said in 2019.
As Safaricom marks its 2oth birthday, the Newsroom takes a look at some of the big projects the Safaricom Foundation and the M-PESA Foundation has undertaken.
Expectant mothers from Kitutu North no longer have to travel long distances to get to Kisii Level 5 Hospital. The nearby Isecha Level 4 Hospital now has a maternity unit, constructed by Safaricom Foundation and equipped in partnership with Huawei.
When the government made maternity services free, the country’s referral facility, Kenyatta National Hospital had a spike in expectant mothers seeking delivery services. The hospital struggled handling children born with complications. Safaricom Foundation built a newborn unit, christened Safaricom Room, and equipped it with ultrasound, ventilators, incubators, cots and washing machines to effectively cater for them.
County: Taita Taveta
Normalcy is returning to Kangemi Mlilo in Voi. The community, which had been forced to relocate in search of clean, accessible and affordable water, is returning home. This follows completion of a water project by Safaricom Foundation, in partnership with Action Aid. It set up 10 water kiosks linked by a pipeline to Makurati Spring each serving one of the villages with constant supply.
Arabuko Sokoke Conservation Scheme in Malindi now attracts more tourists after it partnered with Safaricom Foundation to renovate its dilapidated boardwalk. The enhanced revenues support its Arabuko Sokoko Schools and Eco Tourism Scheme (ASSETS) bursary.
For residents of Kathonzweni, life just got easier. They no longer have to walk long distances to fetch water from River Athi, which was not safe for drinking. Now they enjoy clean water, thanks to a project initiated by Safaricom and Action Aid. It involved rehabilitation of two boreholes and setting up a purification facility and distribution.
In Turkana, health facilities are up to 50 kilometers apart. Accessing health services is further complicated by insufficient equipment and manpower. As a result, most residents do not get screened for diabetes, eye care and other diseases. This made a comprehensive medical camp organized by Safaricom Foundation with Kenya Diabetes Management and Information Center (DMI Kenya), and the County Government of Turkana, such a timely intervention.
Many fistula-afflicted women endure shame and stigma because they cannot afford treatment. It was therefore a huge relief for 50 women, who benefited from free fistula surgeries in a camp held by Safaricom Foundation in partnership with the Flying Doctors Society of Kenya at the Makueni County Referral Hospital.
County: Homabay County
Pupils from Pundo Kalanya Primary School and Woibero Primary School in Mbita received shoes donated by Safaricom Foundation. This was part of campaign by Ahadi Kenya Trust to eradicate jiggers in the area, which was implemented with partners.
Children born with disability struggle getting to school, which in turn affects their academic performance. To address this, Safaricom Foundation has been working with partners to secure education for children with disabilities in Kenya through surgical interventions and rehabilitation. Over 15,000 children have benefited and 28 community health workers trained in mobile clinics held countrywide since the beginning of the programme in 2016.
At the border of Narok and Kajiado counties, the community in Mosiro struggled to get water for themselves and their animals. Today, it has a borehole system funded by Safaricom Foundation to deliver piped water installed with a submersible pumping unit, elevated plastic tanks, 10 metres long cattle and sheep/goat watering trough and communal watering point.
Hanging on the walls of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital are colourful mosaic works. The artworks, made from recycled tiles and ceramics, comfort and inspire patients and healthcare workers. The project, supported by Safaricom Foundation, was put together by more than 1,200 children from 17 primary schools in Kisumu through the Juhudi Children’s Club.
Umoja Children’s Home in Bomet depended on well-wishers to support the 76 children under its care. Now the home can raise its own revenues, thanks to a posho mill donation from Safaricom Foundation.
In providing quality education and training to girls and young women with disabilities and special needs, Zabibu Centre, a non-profit in Juja, faced the challenge of water. Safaricom Foundation funded the drilling of a borehole, enabling the not-for-profit to focus on its mandate.
Delivery of mental health services has been hampered by limited financing, outdated equipment and stigma. This led Safaricom Foundation to refurbish three wards at Mathari National Teaching and Referral Hospital, and equipping them, together with the laundry facility to give patients a comfortable and warm environment.
Access to supervised therapy and education for children with special needs, challenges their parents. Therapy is a long term endeavor that comes at a prohibitive cost. Safaricom Foundation backed Sapling Trust Foundation to purchase specialised occupational therapy and physiotherapy equipment for rehabilitating children with conditions, like Autism Spectrum Disorders, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Muscular Dystrophy and Brain Lesions.
Counties: Mombasa & Kiambu
Faced with challenges sourcing for funds for projects, Wema Centre which rescues, rehabilitates and trains street children and other needy children in Mombasa and Thika, reached out to Safaricom Foundation for support in enhancing capacity for generating revenue. This has put it in good stead to rehabilitate street children and vulnerable orphans.
Covering 40 per cent of Kenya’s forest cover and key water tower, Mau Eburu was at risk of systematic encroachment and destruction. A KSh155 million grant from M-PESA Foundation, its largest for a single programme, safeguarded the forest, replanted the destroyed forest and enabled local community to go about their activities without fear of the wildlife. It also led to adoption of conservation-based curriculum by schools in the area.
In addressing low numbers of skilled deliveries in Samburu County, M-PESA Foundation backed a five-year holistic programmes to improve maternal and child health outcomes. The Uzazi Salama programme trained community health volunteers, distributed mother baby packs and set up an ambulance command centre.
To reduce preventable maternal deaths, the M-PESA Foundation has funded a maternal, newborn and child health project that will benefit 6, 000 mothers across the country. The initiative is providing women in 24 health facilities with Mother and Baby packs which contain essential items like towels, shawls, diapers, pajamas, soap and a basin. These items will incentivize them to give birth in health facilities for safe deliveries.
This story is part of the Safaricom@20 celebrations. The Safaricom Foundation is one of the largest corporate Foundations in Kenya with a focus on Building Communities and Transforming Lives. For 20 years, Safaricom has developed new technologies and innovations to support and enable Kenyans to communicate, connect and to go beyond.