EXCLUSIVE KTN NEWS INTERVIEW: Bob Collymore explains how Safaricom plans to remain profitable for many years

Safaricom Chief Executive Officer, Bob Collymore. [Photo: Courtesy]

Bob Collymore is perhaps the most admired man in Kenya.

He is the Chief Executive Officer of Kenya’s most profitable company - Safaricom. While many of his peers are spending sleepless nights to keep companies profitable in a challenging business environment, Collymore faces other problems.

Safaricom is making a lot of money. I mean A LOT. Now that is a very good problem any CEO would die to have. For instance, as at this week, Safaricom’s latest product Fuliza had loaned more than Sh 6 billion to Kenyans!

Fuliza is a micro credit product that was launched on January 5, 2019 in partnership with two banks - CBA and KCB. Through Fuliza, MPesa users who run out of cash can borrow up to Sh 70,000 instantly. There are no forms needed, approvals or annoying paperwork to fill to access any amount of cash. Broken down, Safaricom is lending about Sh 200 million every day! At least they are saving trees since no paper is used.

First media interview in 2019

In his first media interview in 2019, Collymore sat down with KTN News Business Editor Aby Agina. In the Trading Bell interview that will air on KTN News on Friday February 8, 2019 at 3.30pm, Collymore candidly opens up about running the multi-billion company, his health and what to expect in the telecom industry this year.

What keeps you awake at night? Agina asks Collymore. “People who don’t sleep well, don’t perform well,” he responds with a smile on his face. A person is supposed to sleep a maximum of seven to eight hours a day,” he says.

In 2017, Collymore started intensive treatment for cancer but he never lost the sparkle in his eyes and the warm smile. His baritone voice is even louder when he laughs. He is back in Kenya responding well to treatment and enjoying the warm weather.

Safaricom CEO and Founder of Safaricom Jazz, Bob Collymore with his wife Wambui Kamiru during a past event. [Photo: Courtesy]

The shocking success of Fuliza

In the interview, Collymore explains how Fuliza was started. He is categorical that for a company to be successful, it must understand the market needs and what the customer wants. “Fuliza is not about encouraging people to take debts but give them an opportunity to complete transactions when they have insufficient money in their M-Pesa accounts,” he says.

He attributes Safaricom’s success so far, to M-Pesa and the data business as well as their e-commerce platform Masoko. In the interview, he further reveals that the average data usage in a month in Kenya is 8.5MB. He says this will increase to between 3 and 5GB in the next three to five years.

Leading Safaricom with a team of 10 executives

Collymore had to take an extended time off work to seek treatment in England after he was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. This is a type of cancer that starts in the blood-forming cells of the bone marrow. He describes that phase of his life as one of the darkest points.

Despite his absence from work, he kept updated with what was going on. He credits the company’s success to 10 executives who he says are the engine of Safaricom. “Don’t send me your CVs, Safaricom is led by one person and managed by great executives of 10 people,” he chuckles.

Safaricom Chief Executive Officer, Bob Collymore with his wife. [Photo: Courtesy]

Collymore is unapologetic for leading an innovative and successful company. “I can’t apologize for leading a company that understands customer needs. Instead, I will continue to spearhead investment in the sector,” he says.

Even though Collymore cannot shake hands with people often because of his low immunity, he promises Kenyans that Safaricom will continue to “shake” their lives through their developmental projects.

Watch the full exclusive interview on Friday 8, 2019 at 3.30pm on KTN News. The interview will also be streamed live on:

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