partnership with Grundfos LIFELINK, part of the worldwide pump manufacturer
Grundfos, that allows rural communities to access safe water and pay for it through the M-
PESA money transfer service.
The unique partnership officially launched in Katitika, Kitui District today, uses M-PESA’s
Pay Bill functionality. It transfers a subscriber’s M-PESA balance to a smart card which can
then be used to draw water at subsidized rates from automatic water systems specially
developed by Grundfos.
Speaking during the launch, Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Michael Joseph said the
partnership was in line with the company’s commitment to supporting worthy causes
within communities and deploying appropriate technologies to answer society’s challenges.
“Safaricom is at the forefront of supporting worthy causes such as the provision of clean,
safe drinking water and generally assisting the communities in which we operate. This
principle is not just ingrained in our corporate giving function. It is at the very core of our
commercial drive as M-PESA shows,” said Joseph.
Grundfos LIFELINK is working to develop and promote a sustainable solution to rural water
supply in developing countries. General Manager Lars Laursen of Grundfos LIFELINK
(Kenya) Ltd. said the company would use the Grundfos Group’s wide experience in
advanced pumping technology to ensure communities in water-deficient areas have a
steady flow of safe drinking water.
“With this launch, rural water supply in Kenya takes a leap into the future with a new and
sustainable solution for small rural communities. By using a smart card, financial
sustainability and good governance is ensured and the exchange of cash is avoided. The
price of water will be close to the prices generally paid for the same in the rural areas,” said
Under the arrangement between M-PESA and Grundfos LIFELINK, each user is provided
with a smart card fitted with a micro-chip. The user is able to buy water by depositing
money from their M-PESA account into a Grundfos M-PESA business account under the Pay
The money is then loaded into the user’s smart card. Each time the user needs to buy water,
the smart card is inserted into a slot on the tapping point and water automatically starts
running until the card is removed and the amount corresponding to the amount of water
tapped is deducted from the card.
The project has several inbuilt features to ensure sustainability. Through M-PESA, the
beneficiaries contribute to a community trust that pays for the solar powered water
pumping system from Grundfos. The money also caters for the maintenance of the system.
The community acquires the water pumping system on credit and at affordable rates. The
system has a business model that enables the communities to acquire the pump while
paying for the investment gradually through utility fees.
Mr. Joseph said that apart from being a reliable money transfer service, M-PESA would
continue to enter into strategic partnerships with other institutions aimed at improving lives
and meeting changing customer requirements. Such initiatives have been a major driver for
the service’s leadership in Kenya.
“M-PESA will continuously seek strategic partnerships with key service providers in other
industries such as public utility companies, government agencies, banks and other financial
institutions and other service providers in our endeavour to come up with innovative
products and services to meet the requirements of our customers and business partners,”
The project, whose launch was presided over by Water Minister Charity Ngilu is the first
one of its kind in Kenya with a commitment from the partners to spread it to other
drought-prone areas. Safaricom Foundation, the telecom firm’s corporate giving arm, which
runs a portfolio of water projects in the country, is already in talks with Grundfos LIFELINK
to use the model to embed accountable and sustainable community management in some
of its projects.
The model also includes a local service organisation for regular maintenance of the system
and service calls. Courtesy of the Safaricom infrastructure, the unit’s performance is
monitored real-time via the Internet and failure messages automatically relayed.
For environmental sustainability, the water systems run entirely on solar energy. This
eliminates problems and expenses traditionally associated with diesel-driven or hand-
About Grundfos LIFELINK: Grundfos LIFELINK is a subsidiary of the world leading water
pump manufacturer Grundfos, which employs more than 18,500 people in 81 companies in
45 countries worldwide. With an annual production of more than 16 million pump units,
Grundfos is one of the world's leading pump manufacturers. The Grundfos Group has more
than 60 years of experience in developing, selling and servicing pumps for water supply,
industry and building services. It equally has a long tradition for innovation and corporate
About Safaricom’s M-PESA service: Launched in partnership with Vodafone in March 2007,
Safaricom’s M-PESA is the first commercial mobile money transfer system anywhere in the
world. Designed to answer to the needs of the unbanked and people outside the formal
financial system, this trailblazing innovation has had phenomenal success, to global acclaim.
According to July 2009 figures, M-PESA today serves a growing clientele of over 7 million
subscribers through an agency network estimated at over 12,000. It has handled over Sh210
billion in person-to-person transfers since launch, while the monthly cash flow has reached