Safaricom PLC: Pioneering Corporate Social Responsibility in Kenya – 25 Lessons For SMEs
By Steve Biko Wafula / Published September 22, 2023 | 5:11 pm
Safaricom collaborates with various partners, amplifying its impact. SMEs can forge partnerships with NGOs, government agencies, and other businesses to achieve more significant results.
At the same time, Safaricom engages with communities to identify their needs and preferences. SMEs can conduct surveys or hold community meetings.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is of paramount importance to both businesses and the communities they operate in due to the numerous tangible and intangible benefits it brings. CSR enhances a company’s reputation and brand image.
When businesses actively engage in socially responsible activities, they demonstrate their commitment to ethical practices and their concern for the welfare of the community. This, in turn, fosters trust and loyalty among customers, leading to increased sales and market share. For example, Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan not only reduced environmental impacts but also contributed to the company’s growth by attracting conscious consumers who supported their sustainability initiatives.
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In addition, CSR initiatives can lead to improved employee engagement and satisfaction. Employees are increasingly seeking meaning and purpose in their work, and being part of a socially responsible organization fulfills this need. Companies that invest in CSR often have higher employee morale, lower turnover rates, and increased productivity. An example of this can be seen at Salesforce, which encourages employees to volunteer and donate to various causes. Their employees report high levels of job satisfaction and feel more connected to the company’s mission.
Hence, CSR is essential for building stronger communities. Businesses play a significant role in economic development and social progress. When they invest in community development projects, such as education, healthcare, and infrastructure, they create a more conducive environment for their operations. For instance, Coca-Cola’s “5by20” initiative empowers female entrepreneurs in developing countries. By providing training and resources, they not only improve the lives of women but also create stronger, more resilient communities where their business thrives.
This is why, in a rapidly evolving world, corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become an integral part of business success. Safaricom PLC, Kenya’s leading telecommunications company, stands as an exemplar of how a business can thrive while making significant contributions to the society in which it operates.
Most times, the best learning we get is from those who are outliers in what they do, and in this case, Safaricom PLC is the best example of why every SME in Kenya must ensure they invest and sustain the communities in which they operate in, however small the acts might because what matters is the thought and actioning of the same.
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Having tracked Safaricom PLC for the past decade, monitoring its performance at the NSE, its engagement with the LEWA marathon, and its commitment to the M-PESA Foundation, not to mention the millions of SMEs it supports via business partnerships, here are the lessons I have been able to gather that SMEs can learn from the mammoth brand.
- Establish Clear CSR Goals: Safaricom set clear CSR objectives from the beginning, focusing on education, health, and economic empowerment.
- Alignment with Business Goals: SMEs should align CSR initiatives with their core business values and mission to ensure relevance and sustainability.
- Localized Impact: Safaricom’s “Ndoto Zetu” initiative empowers local communities by addressing their specific needs. SMEs can learn to tailor CSR efforts to their local context.
- Collaborate for Impact: Safaricom collaborates with various partners, amplifying its impact. SMEs can forge partnerships with NGOs, government agencies, and other businesses to achieve more significant results.
- Transparency and Accountability: Transparency in CSR activities builds trust. SMEs should keep stakeholders informed about their initiatives and outcomes.
- Employee Engagement: Safaricom encourages its employees to participate actively in CSR activities, fostering a sense of belonging and responsibility.
- Education Initiatives: The Safaricom Foundation supports education through initiatives like the “Lipa na M-Pesa” scholarship. SMEs can contribute to education by offering scholarships or supporting local schools.
- Healthcare Access: Safaricom’s “Maternal and Child Health” initiative has improved healthcare access. SMEs can sponsor medical camps or partner with clinics to promote healthcare in their communities.
- Digital Inclusion: Safaricom’s mobile money platform, M-Pesa, has promoted financial inclusion. SMEs can leverage technology to expand their CSR reach.
- Environmental Sustainability: Safaricom’s commitment to environmental sustainability includes solar power adoption. SMEs can explore eco-friendly practices and technologies.
- Disaster Relief: Safaricom responds swiftly to disasters. SMEs should have disaster management plans and allocate resources for relief efforts.
- Community Engagement: Safaricom engages with communities to identify their needs and preferences. SMEs can conduct surveys or hold community meetings.
- Measurable Impact: Safaricom regularly evaluates the impact of its CSR initiatives. SMEs must measure outcomes to refine their strategies.
- Long-Term Commitment: CSR is not a one-time effort. SMEs should commit to sustainable, long-term projects.
- Ethical Leadership: Safaricom’s leadership sets ethical standards. SMEs should prioritize ethics in all aspects of their operations.
- Inclusive Employment: Safaricom promotes diversity and inclusivity. SMEs can follow suit by creating inclusive workplaces.
- Adaptability: Safaricom has adapted to changing societal needs. SMEs should remain flexible and responsive to evolving challenges.
- Youth Empowerment: Safaricom’s youth-focused initiatives, like “BLAZE,” empower the next generation. SMEs can invest in youth development programs.
- Stakeholder Engagement: Safaricom engages with various stakeholders, including customers, employees, and the government. SMEs should actively involve their stakeholders in CSR decisions.
- Corporate Governance: Strong corporate governance ensures CSR funds are used efficiently. SMEs should establish rigorous governance structures.
- Economic Empowerment: Safaricom’s “Jijenge” program supports entrepreneurs. SMEs can create mentorship programs or offer grants to local businesses.
- CSR as a Competitive Advantage: Safaricom’s CSR efforts enhance its brand reputation. SMEs can use CSR as a competitive advantage to attract customers and investors.
- Local Sourcing: Safaricom procures goods and services locally, supporting local businesses. SMEs should prioritize sourcing locally to stimulate their economies.
- Continuous Improvement: Safaricom continuously refines its CSR strategies. SMEs should learn from failures and successes to improve their initiatives.
- Inspire Others: Safaricom’s CSR journey inspires other businesses. SMEs can lead by example, inspiring their peers to embrace CSR as a powerful force for good.
Safaricom PLC’s remarkable CSR journey serves as a beacon of inspiration for SMEs in Kenya. By adopting these 25 lessons, SMEs can not only give back to their communities but also strengthen their businesses and contribute to a better, more sustainable future for all.
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