Press Releases

Press release: KCB, Safaricom Join Acumen in Selecting 20 East Africa’s Emerging Social Leaders

Twenty social entrepreneurs from across East Africa are set to join the prestigious Acumen East Africa Fellows Program in a partnership between KCB, Safaricom and Acumen.
The pool will be selected from the 50 shortlisted candidates who will present their ideas at a Selection Conference in Nairobi. The program to which KCB Bank and Safaricom have committed $1 million is meant to catalyze the development of the region’s bright minds and big thinkers dedicated to tackling the problems of poverty.
Acumen, the pioneer impact investing firm that runs the program, is an international non-profit venture which raises charitable donations to invest long-term capital in companies, leaders, and ideas that are changing the way the world tackles poverty. This year, Acumen received over 550 applications to the East African Fellows Program and through a rigorous three tiered process shortlisted 50 for Saturday’s final selection. The candidates will have a chance to present their social change initiatives, excel in a group activity evaluation and defend their position in a personal interview.
East Africa Regional Director Duncan Onyango said, “We are committed to investing in extraordinary individuals from diverse backgrounds across East Africa; equipping them with knowledge and practical wisdom to solve real world problems and to work across lines of difference. I believe that Acumen fellows are the next greatest generation of leaders.”
The highly acclaimed leadership development program, now in its 6th year, equips emerging social leaders in East Africa with the skills, knowledge and moral imagination to drive social change in their communities. Last year, KCB and Safaricom jointly committed $1 million to Acumen as part of a three-year partnership to connect and cultivate the next generation leaders who take a systems change approach to the world’s biggest problems and have the moral imagination to effect long term change.
“At KCB, we recognize that we are an integral part of the societies in which we operate and that our business decisions and practices impact on diverse stakeholders,” said KCB Group CEO and MD Joshua Oigara. “We are committed to see this program succeed because we are convinced that it fits into our policy recognizing that we can only be as great as the society around us. When poverty is tackled, entire communities are economically uplifted and our collective well-being is enhanced.”
Launched in 2012 with the support of KCB Foundation, Acumen’s East Africa Fellows Program is designed to build the next generation of social leaders with the audacity to transform society and create a better, more inclusive world.
Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore, an Acumen board member since 2015, says that the private sector must play an active role in helping to deliver the next level of economic development.
“In truth, Governments cannot effect meaningful change at scale in isolation,” said Mr. Collymore. “The private sector has no choice but to play a part, not because of the opportunity for profits, but simply because it is the right thing to do.”
The 20 Fellows selected will participate in five week-long seminars throughout the year, where they receive the tools, training and space to innovate new ideas, accelerate their impact, and build a strong network of social leaders from across their region and around the world. 
Over the last 5 years, the program has attracted thousands of applicants from all over East Africa with diverse cultural, geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds and working across a variety of sectors. The program has to date trained 98 dedicated social change makers from Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, creating a strong community of East Africans who are committed to standing with the poor and creating hope in a cynical world.

About Acumen
Acumen is changing the way the world tackles poverty by investing in companies, leaders and ideas. We invest patient capital in businesses whose products and services are enabling the poor to transform their lives. Founded by Jacqueline Novogratz in 2001, Acumen has invested more than $88 million in 82 companies across Africa, Latin America and South Asia. We are also developing a global community of emerging leaders with the knowledge, skills and determination to create a more inclusive world. In 2015, Acumen was named one of Fast Company’s Top 10 Most Innovative Not-for-Profit Companies. Learn more at and on Twitter @Acumen.

About Safaricom
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.

About KCB Bank Group
KCB Bank Group is East Africa’s largest commercial Bank that was established in 1896 in Kenya. Over the years, the Bank has grown and spread its wings into Tanzania, South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Ethiopia (Representative office). Today KCB Bank Group has the largest branch network in the region with over 250 branches, 962 ATMs and 12,000 agents offering banking services on a 24/7 basis in East Africa. This is complemented by mobile and internet banking services with a 24hour contact center services for our customers to get in touch with the Bank. The Bank has a wide network of correspondent relationships totaling over 200 banks across the globe and our customers are assured of a seamless facilitation of their international trade requirements wherever they are.

Loise Nduati
East Africa Senior Business Associate, Acumen
Judith Sidi-Odhiambo
Head of Corporate and Regulatory Affairs, KCB Group
Kui Kinyanjui
Head of Corporate Communications, Safaricom