, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 10 – It is 9:45am on a gloomy Thursday in early November.
Westlands has come to a standstill following a night – and morning – of heavy rainfall. Umbrellas are up and about, shielding people from the pouring rain. Could this be the El Niño that the weatherman has been warning about for months?
Inside the Michael Joseph Centre, the story is however different.
Bob Collymore, the CEO of one of East Africa’s most profitable companies, Safaricom, is in a happy mood.
Dressed in a thin-stripped navy blue suit, white shirt and a red designer tie, Collymore has every reason to be happy; his company has after all just announced net profits amounting to Sh18.1billion in just six months.
What’s more, Fortune Magazine has ranked Safaricom (and its mother company Vodafone) number one on its list of Fortune’s Change the World List beating companies such as Google, Facebook and Toyota.
On being ranked number one on the Change the World table, World Bank economist Wolfgang Fengler told Fortune Magazine that M-PESA had truly changed lives, businesses and the perception of Africa. “M-PESA has also brought substantial flows into the financial systems that would have otherwise been lying literally under mattresses.”
So what does Collymore feel about that?
“I’m truly proud of what the Company has become. It has only been 15 years and we are already making the kind of impact that we never quite imagined we would,” he says.
True to his words, Safaricom has managed to leave an impact in people from all walks of life, include those at grassroots levels. For instance, Safaricom has enabled thousands of people create their own businesses as there are 91,249 M-PESA agents registered throughout the country.
Additionally, it is a pioneer as far as mobile penetration in the country is concerned. Figuratively, of Kenya’s estimated 40 million people, 83 percent of them have access to Mobile phones with Safaricom scooping 67 percent of them in subscriber share.
For Collymore, it is more about implementing a winning model that is business centred and a concern for what each and every customer wants.
“We have seen competitors come into the industry and drop their prices in a bid to get more subscribers. Unfortunately, most of these models have ended up failing. At Safaricom, we are giving our customers the services they require while ensuring that we do not compromise on quality,” Collymore explains.
He also reflects on what has made Safaricom a success. He explains that a motivated workforce that has strong values is what has mainly made the telco become what it is.
But what about his leadership skills?