Category: Newsroom

Why businesses must respond to the needs of ordinary Kenyans

Former South Africa President Nelson Mandela once said: ‘‘As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.’’

Unfortunately, these three iniquities continue to bedevil our society. Although the Kenya Economic Update shows that poverty index in Kenya has declined significantly from 43.6 percent in 2005/2006 to 35.6 percent in 2015/2016, the World Bank notes that poverty is unlikely to be eradicated by 2030.

As businesses, we cannot ignore the fact that we do not operate in isolation. We have a critical role to play in reducing or eliminating these inequalities. This, we can do through creation of sustainable livelihoods and support to businesses and families through our operations.

Each year for the past eight years, Safaricom has released the Sustainable Business Report. This year, we focused on reducing inequalities, guided by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The SDG’s are not only influencing a more sustainable approach to business but also strengthening our commitment to ensuring that we leave no-one behind.

It is a journey we would encourage each business to take. It forces a business to confront difficult truths, it challenges a business to look at what it can do better and set bolder targets.

Our world today faces a myriad of challenges, from human rights violations and extreme poverty, to poor governance and climate change.

According to Oxfam International, since the 2007/2008 Global Financial Crisis, the number of billionaires has almost doubled with a new billionaire created every two days between 2017 and 2018.

However, we still have almost half of humanity still living in extreme poverty.

We must recognise that the business of doing business is not just business any more, it is much more than that. We need to evolve the way we approach business. Our success as businesses is intertwined with the growth of communities in which we operate. We cannot succeed if the communities we serve are struggling.

As the private sector, we have the capacity to make things better, and to transform lives. We can drive positive change if we want to. We can reduce or end the number of people living in extreme poverty. And this should start from within us.

Let us not shy away from joining in the conversation and act towards reducing inequalities and promoting the Sustainable Development Goals agenda.

For Safaricom, reducing inequalities means building our network infrastructure to ensure that the benefits of telecommunication accrue to as much of our population as possible. It means developing products and services that are affordable, and that can ensure access to basic services such as health information, education content and clean and affordable energy.

Technology today, for all the good it has done, has also significantly widened the income gap between the world’s wealthiest and poorest, locking many people out of opportunities offered by access to, for example, the internet. Sustainable businesses must ensure inclusive business, drive economic growth, and respond to the needs of the ordinary Kenyan.

Its time to break taboos on menstrual health

Kenya requires meaningful and sustained conversation to break taboos on menstrual health to help women unlock their economic and educational opportunities.

Mrembo Empowerment Center Founder, Stellamaris Mwende has called on local leaders to take a leading role in helping break the chains holding back women from actively participating in economic development.

“We can no longer tolerate speaking in undertones on the scourge at the expense of our girls and economic development. The time for action is now,” she said.

She spoke at her Nairobi Empowerment Centre to mark the Menstrual Hygiene Day 2019 celebrations.

This year’s theme is “It’s Time for Action” clearly indicating the urgency of addressing menstrual health issues around the world.

The day highlights strides made to improve menstrual hygiene and suggests new and progressive ways governments, NGOs and corporates can work together to improve the lives of women.

Most women live in poor socio-economic environments that lacks basic sanitation facilities for young girls and women of menstruating age.

“Kenya is no exception with a majority of women living in informal settlements unable to access safe materials to manage their situation,” said Mwende.

About 65 percent of women and girls in Kenya are unable to afford sanitary pads, according to a study by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Collaboration will press for progress in gender equality

Mrembo Foundation is calling for more collaboration and support of innovative ideas to press for progress in bridging the gender equality gap in Africa.

The foundation's leadership has said the time is now to press forward without complacency and make positive changes in key areas where gaping holes threatened efforts to bridging the empowerment gap.

“We need to put more emphasis on education, health and improve political standing for women, these are strategic and critical areas that have potential to push us closer to where women need to be to drive economic development,” said Stella Marosi, Founder of Mrembo Foundation.

The latest World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report which measured gender inequality found that we are still 200 years away from gender parity.

The gaps were in four main themes studied: Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, Political Empowerment.

At Mrembo Empowerment Centre we train young vulnerable women on technical skills in hair care, make-up application, financial management and family planning in a six-month program aimed at empowering them.

“We want them to be better people, have a place they can practice what they have been taught, earn something for themselves and become socially and economically empowered,” said Mrs. Marosi.

This is in line with our mission; to improve the socio-economic status of victims of commercial sex work, domestic violence survivors and single mothers by equipping them with sufficient and dynamic skills set to restore their dignity and build self-sustenance.