“The world has an opportunity to gain trillions of dollars, if [we] can just deal with women’s inequality,” Safaricom’s CEO Bob Collymore told ITU News during an exclusive interview on the sidelines of the Seedstars Summit in Lausanne, Switzerland yesterday.
Fresh off celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the launch of Safaricom’s world-famous mobile money service, M-Pesa, Mr. Collymore told ITU News that he was proud of the “enormous impact” the groundbreaking service has had, including lifting some 185,000 Kenyans out of poverty.
Collymore said that some 51% of the people working for Safaricom are women. However, he said: “If you look at the technology space, which is where the future lies, we found that it was sitting at about 15%. Through our actions over the past couple of years or so, we’ve shifted that to about 21%.”
So how can they do even better?
“We realized that we have to invest right from start from the time a girl is about 6 years old. We can’t wait simply to recruit women, because the technology colleges and universities are not producing women,” says Collymore. “So, we start to work with kids from six, right the way through to the board room. So, our program, we refer to as ‘From the Classroom to the Boardroom.’ We bring in about 60 girls with our internship. We over-index the girls, so there’s 60 girls compared to about 10 or 20 boys. We work in the classroom. We provide mentorship for older women, so it’s a whole range of things. We’re pretty excited about the progress that we’re making.”