Innovations That Have Grown Kenya’s Name Worldwide

Over the years, Kenya has built respectable products like EABL’s Tusker brand and Safaricom’s money transfer success M-Pesa. Here, we revisit their stories as the country celebrates 50 years of Independence.




In March 2007, Safaricom launched M-Pesa in Kenya. Today, the M-Pesa story has been retold over and over again. A simple searchof the name M-Pesa on Google returns at least 3.8 million results.

It was developed by Susie Lonie and Nick Hughes, but its success in Kenya has eclipsed the owners of the idea, and the word M-Pesa has become synonymous with the country where it was first launched.

Today, M-Pesa has become the most cited example of successful innovation in the Third World. Today, all mobile service providers in Kenya have their own version of mobile money transfer services.

It is estimated Kenya has 23.2 million mobile money users who transact across six platforms — M-Pesa, MobiKash, Airtel Money, yuCash, Orange Money and Tangaza — backed by a network of more than 108,000 agents. The figure represents virtually all adult Kenyans.

The latest Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) data shows that mobile payments grew 21.8 per cent to Sh1.2 trillion at the end of August compared to Sh987.2 billion during a similar period last year.

A study by the banking regulator credits mobile money services for the more than doubling of Kenya’s banked population to 67 per cent this year from a low of 26.1 per cent in 2009.

Safaricom has partnered with Western Union to allow M-Pesa subscribers in Kenya to receive money from 45 selected countries, including the US, the UK, Canada and Germany.

The growth in money transfer traffic has been a boon for Safaricom and its result show that M-Pesa contributed about 18 per cent of its total revenue.

The number of banks and microfinance institutions that have signed up partnerships with Safaricom and other mobile phone providers to facilitate money transfer services for their customers in Kenya stood at 17 last year.

The mobile money transfer services will define the Kenya’s banking industry in the coming future, as the country embarks on its next 50 years journey.


Tusker is a homegrown Kenyan beer that today graces many tables around the world. Tusker, the flagship brand of East African Breweries Limited (EABL), was first marketed in 1923.

The name came from ‘Elephant Tusk’ after the founder of Kenya Breweries Ltd, George Hurst, was killed by an elephant during a hunting trip.

Tusker was recently named the seventh most admired and valued brand in Africa, according to a survey done by two international research firms.

Tusker has consistently been a top earner for EABL but has in recent years seen its overall volume contribution to the business slow — going up by three per cent — behind the brewer’s emerging beers portfolio which was up 12 per cent.


An online platform was born from one of the most unfortunate event in Kenyan history, ethnic post-election violence in Kenya in 2008, in a bid to gather, share and map the information on the violence.

Ushahidi is an online mapping tool that can be used to collect and plot reports coming in from citizens via e-mail, SMS or even Twitter. Since then, the platform has been used to save lives in other countries, notably flood disaster in Poland and the Haiti and Chlle Earthquake.


Last year, Cellulant, a Kenyan software firm, was awarded a four-year Sh745 million contract by Nigeria’s federal government to run an e-mobile registration and validation system for subsidised fertiliser.

Nigeria sought to build an efficient distribution channel to deliver fertiliser to farmers, empower them to increase their yield and encourage a shift from subsistence to commercial farming.

An accredited farmer receives allocation of fertiliser through a pin sent to his or her phone which the recipient then takes to the bank and pays at a subsidised rate.

– Business Daily