Joseph Ogutu, the chairman of Safaricom Foundation, and director of strategy and innovation at Safaricom has had a prolific career in the telecommunications industry in Kenya spanning over 25 years. EDNA GICOVI profiles his dynamic career and life experiences.

Joseph Ogutu is a busy man. One cannot expect less of an individual at the helm of the leading mobile network operator in Kenya. Consequently, this interview had to be done on two separate occasions, as we did not have enough time to complete it in one sitting. Even so, Joseph, known to most as Joe, is a most gracious man. Pleasant and easygoing, he has a distinctive aura of humility and ordinariness; almost an average Joe, just like his name. He had to be whisked away by his personal assistant the very first time the interview took place, or else he would have carried on with the conversation, running late for his next appointment. He nonetheless promised another interview and true to his word, met me a second time, not too long afterwards.


Joe’s father worked as a pharmacist in a local hospital in Mwadui, Tanzania, where he was born and partly raised. His mother, a housewife, instilled in her seven sons and one daughter a sense of responsibility from an early age. “Though we were many boys, we all did household chores. We learnt how to take care of ourselves from an early age. As the eldest child, I was taught to take responsibility for my siblings,” he says. This left an indelible impression on Joe. “If you start taking responsibilities early,  it becomes easier to take up responsibilities when you grow older,” he says.
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