I have very fond memories of M-PESA baby moments, when the baby was in mini diapers of pilot, and the real care takers including the mother and father handled everything with care, The baby could not whimper without everyone in the house jumping up and down incase anything went wrong.
This was the Family Tree, Susie Lonie, and Nick Hughes from the Vodafone Grooms family, then Brides Sagentia family with Tim Murdoch, Lesley-Ann Vaughan, Andy Measures, Warren Carew, Chris Bowley, Antony Lawal, Liz Galpin… These are the people that come into my mind because of the day to day interactions we had then.
The bride entered into a marriage that saw the bride bear a child, nobody believed that this child could even walk, child was born and named M-PESA. At first I heard of this baby while on night shift and like the normal Value added services, Safaricom HR personnel- Marilyn came and quickly gave us a training on this new service. It never hit any of us and for a moment we were happy not to take calls for a few hours( i was in the call center then and after four years singing” thank you for calling safaricom customer care”… i almost sounded like an automated robot”
We got this new Head of Department who was soo cool compared to the previous one..I was not fond of the previous one and just coped( then i didnt know the meaning of..never blame your boss steer your life your way) . This cool HOD came with changes that were the best at the time… He was our saviour then and we loved him to bits.
The HOD proposed a split in Customer care sections and one section “additional Services” he clearly said that this was not a promotion but a movement to support Additional services.
I applied and was more than excited to move away from customer cries call center to this cool call center where i was just handling directory services and Sim replacements.. it was bliss even though no promotion..
Then the baby that was now ready to come to Africa arrived. And had to be moved to a nursery school called Faulu Kenya. The bride and the groom in UK( i only used to hear of UK and see the queen on TV) would visit the baby once in a while in Kenya.
The Nursery training of M-PESA baby at Faulu Kenya went well and the baby was initially intended to be sent to only collect and pay loans for Faulu Family but the Faulu family devised other ways of using the now grown baby. They used her not only to pay and recieve loans…they started using her to send money to each other and buy Safaricom airtime.
By then due to the faulu family clever ways of use of the baby… Additional services started recieving complaints from the baby malfunction, Faulu family complaints and this enabled the Cambridge Sagentia daddy ( Tim) and the Vodafone Mommy( Launch) to come up with ” launch proposal of send money home”
By then I had gotten the name of Mama Mapesa and everyone Knew me as Catherine M-PESA. All the while the only strange people I interacted with were Susie and L-Ann Vaughan and Any measures and would see Tim Murdoch and Warren carew in the many mails that were necessary.
Pilot was a success… the baby had done its job well enough to deserve graduation from nursery to the next level.
By then my relationship with the M-PESA mommy – Susie Lonie were on a high and she quickly had me moved from the call centre to the prestigious Safaricom Head office. Miracle – I called it because it was the hardest thing ever to get out of the call centre..i was the envy of many.
To cut the long story short I was previledged to close the successful pilot and start on the launch preparations. My desk always drew curiosity because of the number of handsets that were on action.
Sagentia team( now Iceni Mobile) were the best I have seen to date. Believe it or not most of the handsets were set up online…thank you MSN messenger.
We finally launched and what stress followed…..Battling Agents, Customers , Roadshows, I cant remember having lunch or dinner in those years…
If you had to have lunch it had to be served on your desk, many are the days when Pauline Vaughan left the office at 1.00am.. and she would walk past my desk and ask ” Cathy you are still here ?” and because I loved M-PESA there is nothing I would not have done to get things working.
Resource was scarce, but we worked hard and soon we had everyone talking about M-PESA and other aspirants claiming that they brought M-PESA to Safaricom. They didnt even know that the same time we were launching in Kenya…we were training the team for Afghanistan M-PAISA.
I know the truth about M-PESA and it was a sad time to leave, but the baby was now an adult who could handle millions of transactions at a go.
And right there Susie Lonie, Nick Hughes, Lesley-Ann Vaughan, Andy Measures, Warren Carew, Tim Murdoch, Antony Lawal, Nick Hammond, Liz Galpin, Pauline Vaughan, Rita Mwachandi, Walter Andayi, Peris Gachigua and I watched history unfold.
The scramble continues….. At Red Ant International..we are going forward with the vision…to Train people on how to make another success around the world.
Another day is here …..Financial Inclusion for all