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U.K.-based Vodafone and Kenyan telecom Safaricom had modest expectations for the mobile-money platform they created in 2007. Many thought M-Pesa—which lets people who lack bank accounts use their smartphones to save and transfer money, receive pensions, and pay bills—was a worthwhile idea but didn’t imagine it would transform the regional economy. Within months, though, membership rocketed. Today 17 million people in East Africa, India, Romania, and Albania—many of whom are on the financial grid for the first time—use M-Pesa. “It has been revolutionary,” says World Bank economist Wolfgang ­Fengler. “It has changed lives, businesses, and the perception of Africa, and brought substantial flows into the financial system that would have otherwise been lying literally under mattresses.” A staggering 42% of Kenya’s GDP is transacted through M-Pesa. And for Vodafone, brand loyalty has followed. Fewer than 0.1% of its customers in Kenya have dropped the company since 2010, says Vodafone’s Michael Joseph, a former Safaricom CEO who oversees M-Pesa.

All company information and rankings are for Vodafone.

Company Info

Sector
Technology
Industry
Telecommunications
Country
U.K.
Revenues ($ millions)67,945
Company type
Public
CEO
Vittorio Colao
Websitehttp://www.vodafone.com
Impact Segment
Economic Opportunity/Financial Inclusion

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