Safaricom was founded in 1997 and in 2008, 25% of the company was listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange. It is the leading mobile operator in Kenya, with almost 40 million customers as of March 2021. The company launched its innovative mobile money product M-PESA in 2007 and had 28 million users and more than 248,000 agents as of March 2021.
Safaricom’s Women in Technology programme offers internships, mentorships, training and other initiatives aimed at supporting women studying tech-related subjects at university. Furthermore, the company calculates its indirect economic impact, and has estimated that it contributed to 6% of Kenyan gross domestic product in 2020, sustaining over one million jobs.
Safaricom Foundation’s Wezesha programme empowers Kenya’s young people through in-class digital skills training that aims to enhance their employability. Since 2019, over 600 young people have been trained. Safaricom is working to provide each primary school in Kenya with a computer lab and to date it has funded 21 computer labs.
The company demonstrates senior-level oversight of cybersecurity. The company has partnered with the Kenyan government and other Kenyan telecommunications operators to launch a child online safety website.
Safaricom is a leader in innovation relating to sustainability research and support. The company partners with MK Africa for MyLittleBigThings – a Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) innovation challenge – to support solutions for achieving the SDGs. There is high-level support for the SDGs at the company and it has incorporated the goals into its performance objectives to ensure that sustainability is at the heart of its business. The company also reports the number of its women employees working in technical roles.
While Safaricom has initiatives to support access to digital technologies for vulnerable groups, it has not commissioned a third-party assessment of these initiatives. In addition to carrying out an assessment, the company can also report its financial and in-kind contribution and participation data for its programmes.
Although Safaricom has a programme focused on developing intermediate digital skills, no evidence was found for the company having initiatives to teach basic and technical digital skills. The company has an opportunity to support initiatives in this area, thereby contributing to digital literacy and technical digital skills for enhancing livelihoods.
Given the scope of the company’s operations, it has an opportunity to demonstrate leadership by more clearly indicating support for open innovation. It can also widen its support for the tech innovation ecosystem through initiatives for start-ups, such as incubators, accelerators and competitions. Safaricom can also disclose how it considers ethics in product development, particularly in relation to artificial intelligence (AI).
Core social indicators
The core social indicators assess societal expectations of business conduct that companies should meet if they aspire to be part of a system transformation that leaves no one behind.
Safaricom has a grievance mechanism that is accessible to both workers and external stakeholders to raise human rights concerns and complaints. However, Safaricom does not have a public commitment to respect human rights or the ILO core labour rights. Furthermore, the company does not have a public commitment requiring its business relationships to commit to respecting all of the ILO core labour rights. Safaricom does not disclose a process to identify, assess and take action on the salient human rights risks in its own operations and in its business relationships. Moreover, the company does not engage with stakeholders whose human rights could be impacted by its operations.
Safaricom commits to respecting the health and safety of workers, but does not require this from its business relationships. The company does not specify that it does not require workers to work more than the regular and overtime hours. It also does not disclose the percentage of its workforce covered by collective bargaining agreements. Further, Safaricom provides no relevant evidence in relation to paying its workers a living wage, or in relation to whether it supports its business relationships to pay their workers a living wage. Safaricom is committed to gender equality and women’s empowerment but does not disclose time-bound targets on the subject. The company discloses information on gender diversity in the workforce, but it has an opportunity to disclose information on more indicators of diversity per employee category.
Safaricom includes anti-bribery and anti-corruption clauses in contracts with its business relationships. However, it has no publicly available policy statement prohibiting bribery and corruption. Safaricom does not disclose its approach to lobbying and political engagement. Specifically, the company has no public statement indicating that it does not make political contributions, and it does not disclose its lobbying expenditures.