Kenya’s Safaricom is establishing a school that will accommodate about 1000 needy students; the secondary school, dubbed M-Pesa Academy, will be built on a 50-acre piece of land in Thika. According to the company CEO Bob Collymore, this establishment will cost about Ksh. 3 billion.
Construction is in progress and is expected to begin early next year. Safaricom is expected to hold an official launch for the institution, which will be fashioned on the Starehe Boys Center model that admits needy but bright students who pay minimal or no fees.
“We will have a farm at the academy where students will grow some of the food that will be consumed at the institution,” said Collymore.
The M-Pesa Academy will be built and owned by the M-Pesa Foundation, a charity organisation established by Safaricom in 2010.
The trust is an autonomous entity run by interest income generated from M-Pesa’s multi-billion shilling deposits held by commercial banks. M-Pesa Holding is the mobile money payments business unit of Safaricom.
M-Pesa has won global accolades for its impact on the economy and easing access to financial services especially among the unbanked population.
The M-Pesa Foundation says the academy is in line with its philosophy of investing in massive, long-term projects in education, environment and health.
“As part of our on-going commitment to build sustainable education options for future generations, the M-Pesa Foundation will be investing in the development of a state-of-the-art educational facility in Kenya,” said Les Baillie, executive director of the M-Pesa Foundation.
Safaricom says the school will admit students from all over the country and will have a unique education approach to teaching.
“Driven by entrepreneurial leadership, technology and an innovative way of delivering the KCSE curriculum, the academy will primarily serve gifted but needy students with demonstrated leadership potential,” said Baillie.
The latest Central Bank data shows that Sh2.1 trillion was moved last year through mobile money.
Apart from education, the M-Pesa Foundation is also keen on funding innovation. In 2013, the foundation financed a local mobile-based technology called M-Farm to the tune of Sh20 million.
M-Farm links farmers to the market place using mobile phone and other web-based applications.
“At the M-Pesa foundation, our goal is to impact communities in direct ways through support for community projects,” said Mr Baillie.