M-PESA's Wangeci Kanjama shifts to head Partnerships and Special Projects

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Wangeci Kanjama has left the role of M-PESA Africa FD to take on the position of director of Partnerships and Special Projects at the mobile money transfer provider, effective May 2023.

Wangeci Kanjama has left the role of M-PESA Africa FD to take on the position of director of Partnerships and Special Projects at the mobile money transfer provider, effective May 2023.

Wangeci, who joined the mobile money transfer service in September 2020, said, “I thought I knew the M-PESA Africa business very well but quickly realised that I knew of it as a user of the product, but it was an entirely different ballgame as the people running it."

“I immersed myself in it as if it were an experience I had never had. It was a humbling approach to learn the entire ecosystem beyond just M-PESA in Kenya. When you work in Safaricom, you understand M-PESA better as a product. When you move out, you begin to understand it as an ecosystem,” she added.

As FD, Wangeci played a key role in harmonising the framework, allowing for more interoperability across the different ecosystems, standardising the platform, and accelerating a framework for commercial initiatives to launch faster across the markets.

"Within finance this was actually quite challenging because there were many elements I was responsible for namely tax, legal, procurement finance operations, finance planning and fundraising. It was a humbling journey, a multicultural environment with different elements. We started the business during COVID and the plan that the board approved had to be implemented against the backdrop of a pandemic environment with work being done virtually,” she explained.

In her role as FD, a lot of people would reach out to Wangeci on LinkedIn and within Safaricom with interesting ideas, which she would share with the M-PESA CEO.

"This is how I ended up as director of Partnerships and Special Projects. The CEO was looking for somebody who can handle growth strategy,” she said. "So many people have understood the M-PESA model and are building interfaces off that model. There are businesses out there with fascinating ideas. For us it is important to understand the business challenges out there and to then think of digital solutions that can use M-PESA as a wallet.”

“At M-PESA things are moving quickly, people want decisions made rapidly so I had to adapt and learn,” she explained. "It is a flatter organisation with less hierarchy meaning we work more cross functionally and therefore people come together in what we are call squads, think through issues and then move out. I have appreciated this along with the diversity and nationalities that make up our market. We received an award from [Safaricom CEO] Peter Ndegwa for entering Ethiopia and another award from Vodacom for successfully establishing a partnership with Visa.”

Wangeci has spent close to two decades in the telecommunications industry. The roles she has served in include head of Business Planning, head of Wholesale and Roaming and head of Business Partnering at Safaricom.

She holds a B.Com in Finance and Financial Management Services from the University of Nairobi.

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