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Michael, Bob, Peter…How Safaricom has changed

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Anyone stepping into the slot behind the helm at Safaricom would realise that the captain’s shoes are quite large.

They were made and first worn by the steely Michael Joseph, who, in the start-up days, had to walk in downtown Nairobi with his band of employees with a bagful of gadgets and lines tied to his waist to help the first customers get started on the Safaricom network.

Michael laid the foundation of the company with an initial goal to net 20,000 customers.

Coupled with game-changing decisions that include introduction of per-second billing, low denomination airtime, subsidised phones, and the introduction of M-Pesa seven years after, the recipe for next-level success was all set and polished.

“All the products and services we launched from day one, from October 23, 2000, were pre-paid. You didn’t have to fill in a form. You just got into a shop and bought a SIM card. The phones were cheap. Even the billing system we charged per second, not per minute because the people needed to pay for exactly what they used,” Michael said.

In a decade, the Safaricom team had built a runaway success that when the time came for Michael to step down, Daily Nation editorialised that his shoes were too big for his successor Bob Collymore to fill.

READ ALSO:   Safaricom staff charged with attempting to defraud firm of Sh300m

Trailblazing success

As it turned out, they were dead wrong. Bob was destined to lead a decade of more trailblazing success, making Safaricom to become Kenya’s first Sh1 trillion company by stock exchange valuation.

“I took an early position that the price wars were not sustainable, and made a firm decision to strike the tricky balance between offering a competitive price to customers that would also enable us to earn a margin to continue to invest significantly in the network,” Bob would later say.

His leadership model was defined by Three Ps: Purpose, People, and Profits.  “There is a new way of doing business,” Bob said. “The way businesses have conducted themselves for decades or centuries is now outdated. Plan A is not working anymore, because all we are seeing is climate degradation, human rights abuses, and corruption. We have to find a new way of doing business, and it starts by businesses saying that the primary purpose is not to generate profits.”

Bob would oversee a period of rapid growth for Safaricom and turn it into East Africa’s most profitable business. Under him, M-Pesa grew from a payment platform to the backbone of Kenya’s economy. M-Pesa’s contribution to Safaricom’s bottom-lines grew to more than a third.

He would lead the company to become Kenya’s first Decacorn as the share price rose past the Sh30 point. As he grew the company, the avid reader and jazz enthusiast also oversaw investments in the arts by Safaricom in the form of the Safaricom International Jazz Festival and the Safaricom Youth Orchestra, effectively creating some of the biggest calendar events in the entertainment scene.

READ ALSO:   Michael Joseph: KQ could fly into more turbulence

The man who loved playing the saxophone would also personally take charge and implement changes to payments made to musicians, whose music was on Skiza, the service that offers ring-back tunes. With Skiza, said David “Nameless” Mathenge, artistes could now get access to more than 17 million people when their songs are released.

Just over six months into his job as CEO, Peter Ndegwa has presided over the celebrations marking 20 years since the company was established. The natural question of how he feels in the large boots arose.

“I feel the sense of responsibility but also I need to be myself. I need to lead as Peter Ndegwa,” he said.

Even as he paid tribute to his predecessors, the CEO made it clear that his vision is to oversee Safaricom’s transformation into a technology company going beyond its well-known offerings of connectivity and M-Pesa.

Unique brand

“There is a real sense of responsibility to build on the foundation the company has had. This is a unique brand, a ubiquitous organisation, and a household name. I need to enable us to take it to the next decade or two,” he added.

In effect, the CEO said, Safaricom will be looking to maintain its focus on purpose and become a technology company, building on the foundation set by Michael and the late Bob.

READ ALSO:   Bob Collymore’s contract extended by another year despite calls he be replaced by a Kenyan

At home , Safaricom has set up M-Pesa for business, dubbed Pochi la Biashara, whose target is micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which employ a majority of the workforce. Pochi la Biashara is intended to enable business owners to separate their personal and business mobile wallets and prevent the reversal of transfers by unscrupulous customers.  There will also be more investments in health, education, and agriculture.

In agriculture, this will focus on innovations such as DigiFarm, the platform launched in 2017.Once they are registered on DigiFarm, farmers can access information on affordable inputs, e-extension services, and access to markets and insurance.

“DigiFarm was set up with the vision that we have today. What is different today is that now, agriculture and health will be central to our future,” said Ndegwa.

Safaricom’s 20th birthday celebrations were an appropriate time to spell out that vision and what the picture of success would look like.  “We are 20 years old. We want to be here 100 years from now,” Peter said.

By Nation.africa


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Navigating through the Covid-19 Terrain and a Story of Exceptional Transformation at Optiven

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Navigating through the Covid-19 Terrain and a Story of Exceptional Transformation at Optiven

Optiven Group has continuously had all its eyes trained on its vision of economically and socially empowering and transforming the society.

This vision was however momentarily shaken by Covid-19, especially on the month of March 2020, when the first case was reported. Soon, all was not business as usual. The pandemic scared our staff and customers alike. With huge loans to pay, massive salary bills and many office rentals to cope with, everything seemed daunting. The worst was when we closed our offices and temporarily sent hundreds of staff home. That was extremely agonizing to bear.

As an entrepreneur, this was one of my worst periods ever. The headaches were not ceding ground and the only thing that was consoling was the power of prayers. It is during such times when the test of leadership comes to play.

Our most affected area of business was our sister venture entities in the name of restaurants. Indeed, we sent hundreds of staff home. We are now however thanking God that 85% of these staff are back and with a projection of bringing back the rest soon, as business starts coming back.

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore Reveals Why He Does Not Shake Hands

Importantly, soon after Covid-19 pandemic hit, Optiven Group was swift in adopting new strategies and quickly embracing appropriate technology to counter the new terrain. This is perhaps one of the reasons why the firm is still expanding, especially on the area of job creation and mentorship front.

It is largely courtesy of these strategies that despite the current pandemic, we have managed to launch enormous mentorship programs such as the George Wachiuri School of Mentorship and also engaged in encouraging SMEs that have really been struggling to stay afloat through our business mentorship sessions. Through the latter, we have continued to inspire over 7,000 active participants through George Wachiuri’s Facebook LIVE shows that are also available on my You Tube channel, this has continued to give hope to many.

Still, during this period, we have managed to create over 100 permanent jobs for both senior and middle level employees, plus over 200 casuals that daily work in our projects. This job increase is in line with our goal of creating over 30, 000 jobs by the year 2030.

On the real estate front, we really had to think away from the box and undertake a massive 360 degree transformation that was educated by thinking differently and changing how we used to do things before Covid-19.

READ ALSO:   Michael Joseph: KQ could fly into more turbulence

Thanks to this, we have continued to provide our customers with even more offerings in terms of value additions to our projects. It is during this period of Covid-19 when we decided to put our efforts towards GoingGreen in most of our projects. Matter of fact, we have surprised our customers by further transforming our projects through installation of green energy, massive tree planting, and installation of water recycling systems, encouraging plot owners engage in farming of organic foods and subsequently feed their families from their previously idle plots. Significantly, we also changed from use of Kenya Power electricity in our projects to the use of solar energy on almost all amenities and by so doing, we have now managed to save millions of shillings in terms of KPLC bills. Most importantly, we are glad that we are now fully plugged on the green energy agenda.

All along, the company has continued to flourish through innovation, partnerships, massive philanthropy activities and even more importantly, a commitment to always entrust all our undertakings to God.

We are glad that we are consistently realizing our vision of being pacesetters in social economic transformation through opportunities such as job creation that have a positive multiplier effect on the society.

READ ALSO:   Safaricom’s plan to name new CEO dashed by Collymore’s sudden death

Guided by the same vision, we always dedicate 5% of what we make in business and channel it to the less fortunate through a registered foundation viz Optiven Foundation. We have hundreds of orphans whom we support to go through school. We also support the physically challenged to get free wheelchairs and support girls to access schools. The Foundation also cares for over 300 families and helps them to get food daily.

Indeed, we at Optiven exist to economically and socially empower and transform the society.

#ChangingLives
#EyesOnTheCommunity
#CreatingJobs
#GoingGreen
#HousingKenyans

Contact Optiven Group:0790 300 300
Email: admin@optiven.co.ke Website: www.optiven.co.ke George Wachiuri Blog: www.georgewachiuri.com
YouTube: https://bit.ly/2VdSuFJ


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How I made my first million

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At what age did you make your first million? 

I was 19.

How did you make it? 

I was running a creative design and printing agency. I bid for and won an order to design and print marketing materials for a global NGO which has offices in Kenya.

How did you spend or invest it? 

I re-invested most of it into the business by buying more machinery to reduce costs associated with outsourcing. I also set up a new business with a friend – a movie shop in Nairobi CBD.

The biggest money mistake you have ever made? 

Setting up the movie shop was the greatest money mistake – but I picked up two of the greatest business lessons. One, to never divest too early, and only invest in a business you understand well.

What is the best investment you have ever made?

 I would say investing in myself and in my exposure through travel. Travel has made me see endless possibilities for innovating new products, business models and solutions in the African market. A combination of the international exposure and strong local market understanding is priceless.

What is the worst purchase you have ever made? 

The movie shop. I bought a ready business that I did not understand and it went crumbling down. We eventually closed it a few months later.

READ ALSO:   President Uhuru leads politicians, celebrities in mourning Bob Collymore

If you had a spare million or two, where would you invest it right now?

I would invest it in my current business – a software technology company. This is because I believe the business has potential to become a great success.

What is the biggest money lesson you have learnt about growing it and making it work for you? 

Initially, we all have to work for money. However, I have learnt that the wealthy person has learnt how to make money work for them, through consistently investing what one earns.

Where do you learn about finances? 

I read a lot of books about real success stories from entrepreneurs because I believe entrepreneurship is a great way to create wealth, while creating value in the society. I also stay curious to learn about different investment vehicles because I know I shouldn’t put all my eggs in one basket.

Any financial myths you think should be busted? 

Money is not the root of all evil; greed may be. Money is a good thing because it can create freedom and prosperity, if well spent.

What two personal finance rules do you follow? 

Live within your means; and work to make money as a tool to accomplish real goals. Real goals are not just about making “enough” money, because it is almost impossible to define “enough.”

READ ALSO:   Safaricom’s plan to name new CEO dashed by Collymore’s sudden death

Investing or saving…Which one carries more weight?

Investing. However, they go hand to hand as saving to invest is acceptable.

One can get rich easily… but how does one stay rich? 

By constantly making calculated investment risks, and always striving to be wealthy, not rich.


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LET’S HOLD HANDS WITH OPTIVEN FOUNDATION

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By helping someone achieve their dream,
You are well on your way to achieving your own dream!

Together with partners like you, the Optiven Foundation is changing one life at a time, by reaching the most vulnerable and meeting their needs. Because the needs are growing daily, we are open to hold hands with you and make our world a better place. Make your donation to Optiven Foundation via Paybill 898 630, Account name: Mobility

For more info, call us on +254 718 77 60 33 or info@optivenfoundation.org
www.optivenfoundation.org
#TransformingLives
#RestoringDignityof Senior citizens
#SharingHopewithOptiven


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READ ALSO:   REVEALED: Bob Collymore was about to take up a new job in UK before he died [VIDEO]
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Special Offer: Own one starting at Ksh 3.7M


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