iHub By Jessica Colaço / October 20, 2010
Review of the session: “Reflections with MJ”
Michael Joseph retires from Safaricom in 10 days, these are some of the words he shared with the audience at the iHub.
Safaricom was started in June 2000. The business plan was to have 400,000 mobile subscribers in 5 years; Safaricom was hoping to get at least 50% of those. They had inherited 17,000 unhappy customers, 9 cell sites in Nairobi. The staff consisted of five people from vodaphone and 55 people from Telkom. They only had 20 million dollars yet one switch cost 10 million dollars then. 10 years later they have approximately 16 million subscribers. They grow by 500,000 customers a month. He says they are successful because they are innovative.
Some Lessons he learnt during his tenure:
Don’t surprise your customers- He once tried to surprise Kenyans with 200KES free airtime and what resulted was a network outage that has never been forgotten.
No free calling times in Kenya, not yet anyways. They once had free calls from 9:00 p.m. but that used to cause network jams and thus it was suspended.
They have a dedicated team that looks for new ideas. In relation to their terms and conditions, they ask people to sign waivers because they receive so many ideas; they may have had your idea before.
Sambaza- This is a service that is used to transfer mobile airtime from one subscriber to another. It was actually used before in Egypt and Sudan.
M-Pesa was written using a 2 million pound grant. It was initially meant for the disbursement of microfinance loans. It was first tested in Thika. The technology sits in UK and Germany. The success of M-Pesa is due to Safaricom’s distribution network.
Here a few of the questions asked.
What is the best advice that you have ever gotten?
As a leader you have to make decisions. He is a benevolent dictator, but he consults internally when he is not sure. There is no wisdom that comes with an office; you have to be the wisdom in the office.
What do you feel about social media?
He’s not a big fan of social media but he’s successor is. He no longer reads blogs because he reads terrible things (definitely not this one!).
How energy efficient is Safaricom?
They have 60 sites that run on green energy only. This sites use wind power but they have generators that are used when there is no wind. They have building management systems, because it makes economic sense when conserving energy.
Role of government
Government should play an enabling role and not a repressive role. Currently they do not play that role. During post election violence the government wanted to shutdown the mobile network.
Leadership and Management lessons
You have to behave with absolute integrity
You have to lead from the front.
There is no substitute for hardwork.
Know what you are doing or pretend at least.
Starting November 1 2010 he’s new job title will be that of Advisor to the incoming C.E.O and the advisor to the C.E.O. of Vodacom International Operations. After the session Akirachix took a photo with the outgoing C.E.O.
Blog post courtesy of Judith Owigar from AkiraChix
Gilbert at 05:02:19AM Thursday, October 21, 2010
Nice post. Straight to the point. I liked the part of Michael not being a fan of social media because of reading terrible things on blogs! I couldn’t agree more.Reply
Michael Joseph Reflections on Safaricom Success and Failure at 09:06:13AM Thursday, October 21, 2010
[...] can find a great synopsis of what went on in the meeting at ihub, Idd Salim and [...]Reply
Alex Nyika at 10:25:20AM Thursday, October 21, 2010
Was there yesterday and picked a lot from his wisdomReply
David Otieno at 15:42:44PM Thursday, October 21, 2010
I didn’t get the invite but I guess these few paragraphs will do just fine for me.Reply
Hongera Michael Joseph; wewe ni SHUJAA
wendohw at 12:27:53PM Saturday, October 23, 2010
Hey, is there a recorded video? I thought one was to be done.Reply
Jessica Colaco at 12:09:27PM Monday, October 25, 2010
Yes it will be out soonReply
Duncan Mochama at 15:16:46PM Tuesday, October 26, 2010
one very important and funny lesson that i have learned from him is “Know what you are doing or pretend at least.”Reply
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