When big business has a soft spot for society
Have you ever wondered whether big business has feelings and conscience just like an individual?
Many believe business should be strictly detached from the mundane affairs of the society and concentrate on what they do best -? making money and minding the bottom-line.
After all, it may be argued, don’t they pay taxes and shouldn’t governments use taxes to build schools, hospitals, stadia and all manner of social facilities?
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Seeing themselves as corporate citizens, responsible companies eschew this sort of thinking. Believing, and rightly so, that healthy, educated, stable and prosperous environments are a win-win situation for everybody, they create foundations through which they promote this ideal while nurturing a health nexus with customers.
Think of the Bill & Melinda Gates, Rockefeller, Ford and other foundations in terms of their socio-economic and cultural impacts and the sense in corporate social responsibility emerges.
In Kenya the Safaricom Foundation has over the years made a difference to communities through different people-driven initiatives.
This has been achieved under eight categories of Elimu (Education), Afya (Health), Wezesha (Empowerment), Water, Environmental Conservation, Technology for Good, Disaster Relief and Arts and Culture.
From 2018 to 2021, the foundation is focusing on three key thematic areas of education, health and economic empowerment.
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One of its main focus areas in healthcare is boosting maternity services in rural areas. The foundation spends about Sh350m a year towards achieving its objectives. Through the years, it has partnered with over 1,000 organisations.
According to a recent research Kenya’s National Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) has declined substantially from 759 per 100,000 live births in 2000 to 362 per 100,000 at the end of 2014.
In addition, staggering disparities between counties remain with 98.7 per cent of maternal deaths in the country occurring in just 15 counties.
Kenya’s maternal and child mortality rates in the country remain unacceptably high with at least 7,000 mothers dying annually from pregnancy-related complications.
Most of these deaths are avoidable when mothers have access to maternal care during and after pregnancy.
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Lamu County is among those with highest rates of maternal, newborn and child deaths which has not escaped the attention of Safaricom Foundation.
It will invest in existing and proven innovations in maternal health to improve availability, accessibility, affordability and acceptability of quality maternal healthcare, especially in the most affected counties such as Lamu.
The foundation commissioned HDU equipment at the maternity ward at the Coast General Hospital in July.
On average, over 40 percent of low-income earners are hindered by cost and another 18 percent by distances to health care centres.
Close to 500,000 Kenyans are living with diabetes with 60 percent of them unaware that they have the condition while 88 percent of adult Kenyans have never been screened for blood sugar.
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The foundation is committed to mitigating the impact of Type One Diabetes among children in Kenya; and also ensuring that children maintain healthy lifestyles so that they do not get diabetes at later stages of their lives.
The Safaricom Foundation has taken up initiatives that are transforming lives countrywide. In partnership with the Kenya Diabetes Management and Information Centre (DMI), the Foundation offers free medical services to Kenyans during the Safaricom Twaweza Live series. The services offered during the medical camps include diabetes and cancer screening, dental and eye checks, family planning, VCT services, deworming and general checkups.
As much as the government is doing its best to provide these services, foundations are also key in helping out.
Change doesn’t happen in one day but through a series of steps in the right direction, desired results can be easily achieved.