MPESA@10: The people who’ve led the MPESA team over the years

Safaricom’s mobile money transfer MPesa marks a decade since it was launched in Kenya in the first quarter of 2007.

The service was launched on Tuesday March 6, 2007 at the Grand Regency Hotel (now renamed Laico Regency Hotel after change in ownership) by the Safaricom team led by then CEO Michael Joseph and Kenya’s Finance Minister Amos Kimunya.

Four months after launch, the telco reported that the service had registered about 200,000 users who had transacted some Kshs 850 million through the platform. That was MPesa’s first major milestone in terms of both user numbers as well as cash moved.

But away from MPESA’s major milestones (in terms of both user numbers and value of transactions), a product (or service for that matter) is only as good as the team behind it, who strive day in day out to ensure that it delivers to the market and consumer what it had promised it would when it went live.

Let’s now look take a look at the people who have led the MPesa team from the time it was launched to what it has become now:

Pauline Vaughan: Having joined the young telco in 2001 from Sogea-Satom (an engineering firm), Ms Vaughan was later made head of MPesa from the product’s pilot phase in September 2006 and held onto the position for another 2 years. She was later elevated to head of MPesa Product Development and Operations before finally rising to the position of Head of MPesa Business Operations. She left Safaricom – and the MPesa team – in December 2010.  She is now a director at M-Kopa Solar, a provider of solar energy units to rural households in East Africa which is supported by the Safaricom Foundation.

Peter Arina: He joined the telco in November 2004 as Chief Commercial Officer (CMO) from Unilever before being made the GM of Consumer Business following the firm’s structural re-organization. As the GM of the Consumer Business Unit at Safaricom, he was responsible for consumer sales business which includes the dealer and M-PESA agents’ management and retail sales. He was also charged with consumer propositions and for growing internet and data content. Arina left Safaricom in March 2015.

Betty Mwangi – Thuo: She joined Safaricom in December 2007 from Afsat Communications where she’s the CMO as Head of Division charged with managing the New Products Division comprising M-PESA business and GSMA projects before being elevated to Chief Officer, New Products Division in October 2008 with the overall responsibility for the telco’s Value Added Service (VAS). She was later appointed GM of Financial Services business, a role which saw her overseeing the strategic growth, profitability and development of M-PESA. She left Safaricom in March last year.

Ronald Webb: He joined Safaricom in June 2016 as the Director of Financial Services, effectively in charge of the MPesa service. Prior to his appointment, he served at Equity Bank for one year as the Group Director of Payments. He‘s a co-founder and chief architect of the Paynet and PesaPoint payments businesses in Zimbabwe and Kenya. “He is responsible for ensuring optimal financial performance of the Financial Services Division by assuring credit quality, managing business development opportunities, ensuring regulatory compliance and mitigating potential risk”, states his brief job description on Safaricom’s management page.

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