M-TIBA: Transforming Lives

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Safaricom Limited is a leading mobile network operator in Kenya. Established in 1997 as a fully owned subsidiary of Telkom Kenya, Safaricom is now part of a small group of about 400 companies across Africa whose annual revenues are more than $1 billion.

Safaricom is committed to investing in a unique way of doing business through their adopted purpose to ‘Transform Lives’. The company is active in increasingly diverse sectors and aims to empower Kenyans with the necessary tools for economic growth. Safaricom aims to continually integrate the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into the core of their business and believes that the role of business extends far beyond making profits.

The company views mobile telecommunications, and its related products and services, as a unique opportunity to improve the quality of life and contribute to sustainable livelihoods for people throughout Kenya.

Opportunity for Creating Shared Value

Healthcare remains one of Africa’s biggest challenges. With just one doctor per 17 000 people in Africa, getting access to a qualified medical opinion is a privilege that many citizens do not get to enjoy. This leaves many at the mercy of second-level medical staff who may ultimately do more harm despite their good intentions. The third SDG seeks to ensure health and well-being for all, at every stage of life. After the 10-year success of the M-PESA project , and the unprecedented rise of mobile phones and mobile money in Kenya, Safaricom believes that the power of mobile lies in its ability to increase access and that mHealth services have the potential to generate significant impact. Thus Safaricom embarked on a project to create an e-wallet that focused specifically on healthcare: M-TIBA.

The Strategy

In partnership with CarePay, a financial engagement firm that helps individuals manage health expenses, and PharmAccess, a non-profit organization that seeks to make quality healthcare accessible in Africa, Safaricom launched M-TIBA in September 2016. M-TIBA is a mobile health wallet that allows users to send, save and receive funds to get healthcare services using mobile phones. M stands for mobile and Tiba means “care” in Swahili. The application is modeled on Safaricom’s mobile money transfer platform, M-PESA.

M-TIBA empowers the majority of Kenyans, who are excluded from mainstream health insurance schemes, to take care of their own healthcare and roll over their savings from month to month. Funds stored in M-TIBA are managed by UAP Insurance. The value stored in an M-TIBA wallet can hold different forms: health savings, health insurance cover or free health benefits. For example, a government or donor can provide a mobile voucher for a certain type of medical treatment. The voucher can be used in the M-TIBA wallet to pay for treatment at one of the clinics selected for the voucher program and linked to the M-TIBA platform. The clinic bills the individual by submitting the treatment data through a tablet or a PC. The treatment data is then checked by medical personnel. If the treatment is approved, the individual’s payment request is accepted and the money is transferred to the healthcare provider.

With traditional, paper-based insurance or voucher systems, healthcare providers often need to wait for many months until they get paid. Since M-TIBA is integrated with M-PESA, the money now arrives at the facility almost instantaneously after the treatment has been approved.


Business Results:

Safaricom is benefiting from a life-changing digital revolution that could help solve our most pressing social and environmental challenges. Already, 80% of the world’s mobile money transactions are happening in East Africa, driven by Kenya, which is now known as the epicentre of mobile innovation. M-PESA users cut across the entire social-economic demographic of Kenya, forming 92% of our customer base.

M-TIBA targets low-income groups who are M-PESA users and now has close to 1 million users. Safaricom has partnered with banks to enable savings and loans, again enabling millions of citizens to access these banking services. With customers opting to save on the platform as well, there is an ingrained and growing sense of trust associated to the Safaricom Brand and its products, enticing new customers to grow our market base as well. A KPMG True Value report we released in 2016 shows that Safaricom created value for the economy at 11 times higher than our profits for 2015. This translates to Kenyan Sh 414 billion (over USD 14 million).

Social Results

M-TIBA has close to 1 million registered users on its mobile health platform, and has recorded over 60,000 clinic visits and over Kenyan Sh 100 million (USD 1 million) in medical pay-outs since its national rollout in September 2016. There is a growing network of over 350 M-TIBA healthcare facilities across the country. M-TIBA provides registered clinics and doctors with access to healthcare information and protocols in order to improve their practices. M-TIBA sees over 4 000 people sign up a day and is the biggest mobile health insurance platform in Africa. It is providing long-term benefits to individual customers and the entire healthcare sector.

Lessons Learned, Challenges and Future Growth

In its 17 years of existence, Safaricom has learned that it is in fact possible to become creators of human potential, not just traders in it. With Safaricom’s unparalleled reach and trust with the Kenyan people, PharmAccess’s experience as a healthcare innovator and CarePay’s revolutionary transaction platform connecting donors, insurers, healthcare providers and patients, it is Safaricom’s goal to make M-TIBA and its benefits become available to thousands of healthcare providers and millions of people across Kenya.