Save the Children is helping the largest telecommunications company in East Africa identify child rights issues and to set up monitoring and evaluation in order to support them further as well as keeping them accountable.

Safaricom is one of the leading mobile operators in Kenya with over 23 million customers and almost 4500 employees. They are partnering with Save the Children to implement the Children’s Rights and Business Principles throughout their organisation. 

Safaricom has worked with rights issues and children for years and the newly developed Children’s Rights and Business Principles provided a better structure and tools to enable them to embed the notion throughout the organisation.

In 2015, Save the Children facilitated an impact assessment based on the Children’s Rights and Business Principles throughout the company. All key departments participated and a number of ways forward were identified, including specialized workshops on marketing, engagement in issues such as child protection on the internet, and staff in their role as parents.

“What we did was to map the principles to our business areas and then made it real and relevant to what we do in our everyday work,” Sanda Ojiambo, Head of Corporate Responsibility at Safaricom says.

“Once you break it down and make it relevant to your business and what you do, it is actually very simple. It is almost intuitive.”

“Using the CRBP this way, we have been able to identify issues in our supply chain that matter; we have been able to look at ethical marketing and advertising; we have been looking at a more supporting employee environment.”

Today the child rights work is well understood across the business. And every division has one or several child rights champions among the staff that are integrating and keeping track of progress on the CRBPs and find new ideas from staff to improve the work further.

Safaricom also plays an active role as a champion of the CRBP, sharing their experience and encouraging other companies to commit to children’s rights. 

Bob Collymore, CEO of Safaricom, who is also a member of the UN Global Compact Board, is passionate about the importance of children’s rights in business:

“A lot of people say that issues around rights are for governments and rights based organisations, but I’m a firm believer in the role of the private sector in addressing a whole raft of issues. We employ more people than anyone else, we generate more wealth than anyone else, and if we do that, we do then have not just the obligation to do it, but the capacity for doing it.”

“The Child Rights and Business Principles is a very good starting point in understanding what children’s rights actually mean. It was certainly a very good starting point for us.”

And the business case, the reason why it makes business and financial sense to engage in children’s rights as a company, is very clear to Bob Collymore:

“The business case for children’s rights is the same as for any sustainability issue. If you want to be running your business successfully 20 years from now, you have to invest now to fix some of the issues relating to human rights and children’s rights.”