News
Posted on July 11, 2019

Remembering Bob Collymore, a champion of financial inclusion

Bob Collymore was more than just an industry titan. One of the most impactful legacies from his nine years as CEO of Safaricom is M-Pesa, a mobile phone-based payment and money transfer service that has enabled millions of Kenyans to send and receive money with ease and convenience, contributing to the leap in financial inclusion.

It is with an immense sense of loss that the FSD Kenya learned of the passing of Bob Collymore, CEO of Safaricom.

Bob was more than just an industry titan. One of the most impactful legacies from his nine years as CEO of Safaricom is M-Pesa, a mobile phone-based payment and money transfer service that has enabled millions of Kenyans to send and receive money with ease and convenience, contributing to the leap in financial inclusion. Under Bob’s stewardship, M-Pesa has evolved from a mere facilitator of mobile money transfers into a platform enabling new services that ride on M-Pesa enabling customers to save, borrow, access insurance, contribute to pensions, invest and pay for goods and services.

The 2019 FinAccess household survey carried out by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) and FSD Kenya found that 83 percent of Kenyans had access to formal financial services, up from 29 percent in 2006. These positive advances were attributed to the growth of mobile money platforms like M-Pesa, government initiatives and support, and developments in information and communications technology (ICT).

“It has been an honour to interact with Bob on several occasions including a panel I moderated on the story of launching the M-Shwari savings and credit solution with the Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA), and on the launch of M-Kopa’s own home solar system,” recalls Tamara Cook, CEO of FSD Kenya. “Just a few weeks ago as we were in his office discussing FinAccess data, his main question was how the data could help identify new solutions for its customers to transform lives.”

Bob has been eulogised as a larger than life character and a caring leader who championed a corporate culture that valued all staff regardless of their station. He was all about the rallying call “Twaweza,” (together we can), and transforming lives.

Although a British citizen of Guyanese origin, it is perhaps in Kenya that he has touched the most lives. His conviction that commercial organisations can both earn healthy profits and help improve the lives of their clients has been lauded by many Kenyans, including President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“As a country, we have lost a distinguished corporate leader whose contribution to our national wellbeing will be greatly missed,” President Kenyatta said upon receiving news of Bob’s demise.