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Safaricom Making a Big Bet on Data Analytics

By Staff Writer Kenya’s biggest telecoms firm Safaricom is the country’s most innovative company. Safaricom designed and brought to Kenya one of Africa’s innovative mobile money solutions and digital currency, MPesa. The service has been more profitable for Safaricom and it’s an innovative solution. But could the telco’s next big bet – data analytics – help the company diversify its revenues? In the past 12 months, Safaricom has invested into two data analytics firms based in Kenya. However, the virtues of big data have been touted in hundreds of articles and reports during the past few years. Yet the benefits have proven elusive for a lot of companies, argues research firm Strategy&. It seems Safaricom is taking a top-down approach by focusing on specific business problems that big data might solve, and then gathering the data needed to solve them The Vodafone-owned telco is investing in a data analytics startup based in Kenya. Safaricom Spark Venture Fund has invested in FarmDrive, a Kenyan start-up that connects small-scale farmers to financial services. FarmDrive has developed an alternative credit-scoring model based on mobile phones and machine learning algorithms. It allows farmers to access financing using their phones. FarmDrive seeks to address the lack of visibility and data that lenders cite in denying smallholder farmers access to financial services. FarmDrive’s goal is to bring millions of smallholder farmers into the formal financial sector through the simple mobile phones already in their pockets. Leveraging Android and SMS, the mobile phone application allows farmers to track their revenues and expenses, and as well as apply for loans. The data is then fed into a credit-scoring algorithm, alongside key satellite, agronomic, economic data, to help improve yields. By analysing these various datasets, the algorithm is able to generate credit scores for farmers. In addition to the credit scores, FarmDrive also develops decision-making tools that financial institutions can use to create products that fit the economic and agronomic needs of smallholder farmers. FarmDrive becomes the fifth investment by the $1 million Safaricom Spark Venture Fund since its establishment in 2015. FarmDrive was co-founded in 2014 by Rita Kimani and Peris Bosire, both Computer Science graduates from The University of Nairobi. Last year February, Safaricom teamed up with Flytxt to deploy its advanced analytics powered solutions. Flytxt’s solutions leverage packaged analytics to provide telcos with actionable insights that help them to take faster decisions across business workflows and touch points. These solutions further enable them to personalize their services to customers and optimally utilise the opportunities for enhancing customer lifecycle value.]]>

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