Bite-size Case Study

Purpose and impact: Vodafone

Published on July 31, 2022 Originally recorded 2022   10 min
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Let me take you on a journey away from your home offices to halfway around the world, I'd like to take you to the Great Rift Valley. This stretches across two continents and 6000 kilometres from Lebanon, in Asia, to Mozambique, in Africa. It has some of the world's highest mountains, but also some of the world's deepest lakes.
One of these lakes is Lake Magadi, which is in the Kenyan stretch of the Great Rift Valley. You might think that you haven't seen it before, but in fact, some of you might have seen it before.
Not on the small screen of your laptop, but on the big screen of a movie theatre. It was featured in the blockbuster thriller 'The Constant Gardener'. Indeed, millions of people around the world have seen this lake because they've seen this movie, but fewer than a thousand people call the lake their home.
One of these people is a gentleman called Emmanuel Seronga, who makes a living selling and herding goats. For Emmanuel, it used to be that cash was king. That when he sold a goat, he'd receive cash, but he then have to check that cash in case it was forged. He'd have to store that cash and risk it getting stolen. And to bank that cash, he had to walk for an entire day to the nearest bank. Emmanuel's life was tough. He couldn't graze his goats on the greenest pastures, he always had to be within one day of a bank. But all of that changed due to what I would call a purposeful business. And that business was Vodafone, the UK telecoms giant, because in 2007, Vodafone launched M-PESA, a mobile money service in Kenya. Now, let me briefly explain what mobile money is, because people think it's mobile banking, where I have a bank account and I can operate it on my phone more than going to the branch, but with mobile money, you don't even need a bank account to begin with, and that's really important because 15 million Kenyans had no access to banking. So without a bank account, mobile money just allows you to transfer money with your phone, and this completely transformed Emmanuel's life. He no longer needs to deal with cash, he doesn't need to worry about robbery or forgery, and he can graze his goats where he wants to. We don't want to make a big thing out of just one story, but a large-scale study found that within the first seven years of the launch of M-PESA, 200,000 households got lifted out of poverty in Kenya. And many of these households were headed up by women, it allowed them to move from agriculture to business and retail, so that's one story I'm going to give you about Vodafone. But let me now tell you a second story,