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Kenyans for Kenya: The biggest corporate led initiative in Sub-Saharan Africa

Posted: Friday 7 October 11, 1.06pm GMT

The horn of Africa in 2011 has faced the worst drought in 60 years according to humanitarian agencies. The failed rains and famine has put approximately 3.5 million Kenyan’s alone at risk of starvation. A growing number of Somali refugees who have recently been fleeing the war torn country are now also faced with the same predicament as they make their way in to Kenya in search of food and a security. As a result, Kenya is currently facing one of the worst humanitarian crises in its recent history affecting its citizens in the North in areas such as Wajir, Marsabit, Garissa, Mandera, Turkana, Kwale, Pokot and Moyale.

Global efforts were mobilised to raise resources to save lives and avert human suffering in the region. However, one local initiative has seen Corporate Kenya pull a first in the African continent! Dubbed the Kenyans for Kenya initiative spearheaded by companies such as Safaricom Foundation, Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) Foundation, and the Media Owners Association; the umbrella body of media owners in Kenya, a total of £3 million was set to be raised in 4 weeks to feed over 3.5 million Kenyans facing starvation. This initiative officially launched on 27th July 2011 was the biggest such effort ever mounted in Kenya, and the first collaborative venue of its scale. By the close of the campaign on August 26th 2011, Kenyans had managed to raise a total of £6 million surpassing the initial target of £3 million.

Apart from monetary contributions, individuals and organizations contributed in kind items such as food stuff, clothing, and medicine. The business community was not left behind and supplemented these efforts by providing their valuable products and services. For instance, the Kenya Shell company donated 30,000 liters of fuel for transportation of the food aid to respective parts of the country. Nakumatt chains of Supermarket donated 40 tonnes of high protein fortified foods in addition to using their outlets to allow their customers to make their donations conveniently. Financial institutions such as Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) and telecommunication companies such as Safaricom, Airtel, and Orange offered their invaluable money transfer services for free to enable ordinary Kenyan’s to donate. Companies also mobilized their employees to make personal donations which were then matched shilling for shilling. In this show of solidarity Kenyan companies put aside competition and pooled their resources together to alleviate the suffering of their fellow countrymen for the moment and eventually address the issue of food security in the long term demonstrating the success of effective business collaboration.

The Kenyans for Kenya has not only become the buzz word in the continent and the world but has also motivated other African countries to think of similar initiatives in their respective countries. For instance, Vodacom South Africa launched a Short Message Service (SMS) donation initiative through which its customers in South Africa can donate money towards global relief efforts aimed at feeding citizens at the Horn of Africa.

Ufadhili Trust believes that the actions by corporate Kenya have shown that it is possible to mobilize local resources to meet developmental needs of the communities in which they operate.

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