Nominations for Safaricom’s Innovation Board.
Every now and then, everyone it seems has a field day “Safaricom Bashing”. This happened not so long ago when Safaricom attempted to launch an innovation forum with Kenya’s technology community. The “terms of engagement” enraged the community with its punitive and misguided approach that led to the whole initiative being put on hold. Basically, it did not work, that is until now.
Last week I was invited for a meeting by Safaricom’s Wadzanai Chiota-Madziva who heads up their value-added services (VAS) business. The meeting was attended by some of Kenya’s leading “digerati” such as Erik Hersman, Jessica Colaco, Al Kags, Karanja Macharia, and Rehema Parmena. To be honest, I had no idea what the meeting was going to be about until I got there and Al Kags briefed us in due course. Basically, Safaricom is looking to set-up an Innovation Board that would oversee the process of engaging Kenya’s technology community and general public in innovating.
In addition, since Safaricom literally receives hundreds of business ideas on a weekly basis the Innovation Board would act as a filter for the same to establish which opportunities are most viable and how to compensate innovators for those that get through. Also, as a part of the meeting, we felt it would be best that Safaricom allows the general public and technology community at large in Kenya to nominate individuals who they felt would make a valued contribution to the Innovation Board. Safaricom is clearly looking to engage so you can make your nominations here at the Safaricom Innovation web site.
As mentioned elsewhere, this is a great strategic response by Safaricom. The option by the initially appointed ‘board members’ to recommend nominations by the tech community will help realize some legitimacy and acceptance.
An institution outside Safaricom’s control would have been ideal to handle some of the issues; but again that would only be some sleepy government institution.