Acumen announced today that Bob Collymore, CEO of Safaricom Limited, will join its Board of Directors. Collymore, who has been at the helm of the Kenyan communications company since 2010, previously sat on the Advisory Council of the nonprofit social venture fund founded by Jacqueline Novogratz. He has more than 30 years in the telecommunications sector working in Africa as well as Asia and Europe.
“Bob is an incredibly respected leader but, more importantly, he is passionate about catalyzing business to transform and empower communities,” Novogratz said. “Throughout his career, he has shown the power of the private sector and private-public partnerships to improve the lives of the poor. His voice and expertise will be of great value in helping Acumen achieve its mission of tackling poverty.”
Safaricom is a leading player in Africa’s mobile market and pioneered the world’s most developed mobile payment platform, M-PESA. With the creation of M-PESA, Safaricom revolutionized banking in East Africa by enabling users to deposit, withdraw, transfer money and pay for goods and services using only a cell phone. By providing access to banking and other formal financial services, Safaricom’s innovative “pay as you go” platform has unlocked opportunities for millions of poor Africans to afford essential goods and services that can transform their lives. M-PESA’s creators also founded M-KOPA, an energy company in which Acumen invested in 2011 that uses the payment platform to provide solar power to the poor.
Collymore was appointed to the United Nations Global Compact Board in 2012 in recognition of Safaricom’s commitment to sustainability and responsible business and its work to address the Millennium Development Goals of maternal health and child mortality. He has also served on the United Nations Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for women and children. In Kenya, he sits on The Vision 2030 Delivery Board and the United States International University advisory board and, in 2012, he was awarded the honor of Moran of the Order of the Burning Spear by the President of the Republic of Kenya for his services. He is also the chairman of the TEAMS (The East African Marine System) Board and a Trustee of the M-PESA Foundation.
“Increasingly, the business community has the unique opportunity to drive transformative change through all levels of society, particularly through public-private partnerships,” Collymore said. “I am excited to be part of the Acumen board and hope to be able to do my part to create sustainable and inclusive business models across the continent.”