So i was having this conversation with a few people in the morning. I realized the turning point for Safaricom was the "Kenyans are peculiar" statement by its then CEOMr. Michael Joseph. We talked about Equity and Barclays. Where Barclays closed branches in several parts of the country, Equity opened them.
There are few things you cannot do;get into the mind of Kenyans. You must be willing to do understand the market. Granted an idea may work well in France or South Africa, but there are a different people and culture.
In Kenya a lot of investments even at the NSE are done in "a pata potea" manner.
I listen a lot to my dad. He is your perfect Kenyan mind. He is the one that led the onslaught on the Kencell popularity on our house. In a matter of time, we all made the big switch never to go back. He is a lead user of MPESA. He definitely has an equity account despite his remarks on the stability of that bank. He likes the fact that he can walk with his log book into the bank and walk out with money.
One, Kenyans love simplicity. Do what you may, just make it simple.
It is not easy to open a bank account. You need a letter from a referee and a utility bill. I wonder just how many rural Kenyans have electricity bills. Last time i checked in my village, there was no water neither electricity bills coming. So Equity asked them to come with their copies of ID. And come, they did. When they did well, other banks warned they were treading on dangerous ground.
Check your regular Barclays/Standard Chartered requirements for a loan. You will be forgiven to think you are dealing with the CID. There are a few fraudsters granted. But just like the way the US treats aliens (sic) with the attitude that they are potential extreme Islamists ready to bomb them any second soon, banks tend to treat their good customers like fraudsters/defaulters. KIVA.org, a site that loans to small scale people in Africa has hardly reported any defaulters.
Just to make sure that this talk of peculiarity of Kenyan is not just talk, i headed to the CCK Website to check the Statistics. This is what i found;
Market Share in the telecommunications sector in Kenya
Numbers do not lie.
Call Rates for mobile service providers
Safaricom- On Net 4 /= Off Net 5/=
Airtel - On Net 1/= Off Net 3/=
Orange- On Net 2/= Off Net 4/=
Yu- On Net -Free Off Net (No details)
Seems like these other mobile providers should stop competing on prices and enhance their brand visibility and "Kenyan-ness". As to how, you must go back to the real Kenyans and get to know what they want/think.