Born in 1958, Bob Collymore was a Guyanese-born British businessman.
He joined Selhurst High School for Boys in London where he completed his formal education.
In various interviews, Bob Collymore revealed that he started earning money at the age of 12 while living with his grandmother in Guyana.
He would make art pieces from plastic mold and also little brooches from coconut shells which he would sell.
In 2006, he became the governance director for Africa at Vodafone and subsidiary Safaricom before assuming the CEO Position in 2010 in Kenya.
Bob, as he was popularly known, understood the meaning of creating wealth at the bottom of the pyramid. Under his leadership, Safaricom pioneered multiple innovations that transformed lives, such as the Mpesa Foundation Academy.
“We are deeply saddened by his demise. This is a big loss not only for Kenya but for the continent and the world. He leaves behind his wife and four children.
”Bob was a Trustee of the M-Pesa Foundation since it started in 2010 and became involved with the Academy when the idea was first suggested in 2014. From that time on he was a great supporter of the Academy visiting many times and started to know many of the first cohort of students in 2016. Despite his health issues over the last 18 months he made a point of keeping in touch with what was happening at the Academy and exchanged regular emails with some of the current Form 4 students. He will be greatly missed by staff and students, particularly his happy smiling face which became the subject for some of the art students. A difficult act to follow, we will miss you.CEO, Mpesa Foundation Academy
Ashley Chepkorir (Student)
”I first met Bob in the streets of Nairobi outside the Kenya Conservatoire of Music in 2016. He was heading to his car and I walked up to him and said, “Hey Sir, my name is Ashley Chepkorir from the Mpesa Foundation Academy. Could you please come to the academy on Monday because there will be a function to welcome the students in the campus and I will be the M.C.” Surprisingly, he didn’t think twice, he enthusiastically said yes. I longed to meet him after the function because I had a lot of questions to ask him. I walked up to him and asked if he lives in a cave or something because I could not find him on social media. He gave me his contacts and that is how we started our father-daughter relationship. In one of our first conversations he said, “The joy of knowing children like you and all the wonderful children at the Academy is immeasurable.” On 18th June 2017 during Father’s Day, I wrote to him and told him that when my friends were talking about their dads, the first person that came to my mind was him. In his reply, he said that that was the most heart-felt message he had ever received. He said we share the same father experience and just like me, he refused to let the past define his future and that he had chosen to lead a richly fulfilling life.Form 4, Mpesa Foundation Academy
I noted something impressive in him. He didn’t just love and care for the fraternity at the academy for his public image, he was genuine, generous and humorous too! I remember we once organized a surprise visit during the sports day, he had a busy schedule and specifically said the visit will be VERY brief. The VERY and BRIEF was in capital letters. He actually ended up staying for hours.All his emails ended with, “We now all need to focus on improving those grades as you promised.” He wanted us to be successful and on behalf of the students, his wish will be fulfilled. He has taught us a lot and though he persistently told us we inspired him, he inspired us more and he will still inspire us every single morning.
Through him I learnt a lot, he told me that a good business person uses their own product. That’s when I started wearing my own jewelry and accessories and not just selling it to others.
The Mpesa Foundation Academy fraternity was saddened by the news and there was somber mood in the campus. We lit candles in the Resource Centre and the Administration block to honor the good life that Bob lived. He was our mentor and greatly impacted our lives especially the students. We will miss his surprise visits and inspiring speeches. I know that completely filling the empty space left in our hearts is almost impossible but we will try by being transformational leaders.
He accepted that death is inevitable and still chose to be happy, this teaches me that every moment in life counts and that we should always maximize the present because we don’t know what tomorrow holds.
My last message to him is that, “You May not be here any more,but my love for you will never die. I miss you, dad. Your legacy lives on and may your soul rest in eternal peace.
”Today you are gone but you left behind footsteps so that we can follow them. You were one of the greatest minds, Sir Bob. A candid hero yet an ardent legend you are and forever will. Your memories will never fade from our lives for generations and more to come. Yes, you touched many people’s lives and we will forever live to be grateful for that. You left a mighty LEGACY behind Mr. Collymore.Eunice KungaForm 4, Mpesa Foundation Academy
Your death was just but the last chapter in time but the first chapter in eternity.
Rest In Peace lovely soul
”I got the rare chance to sit in the same committee with Bob when we were preparing for the visit of the President of the Republic of Kenya to the Academy during the official launch of the academy, and I must say that I was particularly struck and touched by his humility - an attribute of life, and an ingredient of success that my own late Mama taught me! I will miss these two heroes! May God receive his soul in eternal peace.Patrick ChaoComputer Studies Teacher, Mpesa Foundation Academy
”We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit” by Aristotle." This is the perspective of friendship, kindness, and sense of humor you portrayed the first time I met you. You inspired me as a dad would do to a son, each time you walked through the academy’s gates, your words encourage me for a better and transformative tomorrow.Mark OnginaForm 4, Mpesa Foundation Academy
Earlier, in 2016, you made me love and proud of what I was doing as an art student after you showed high gratitude to the kind of face portrait I had drawn with the help of my art teacher Kepha Ombati. Indeed, I have made tremendous progress in art and now am able to produce communicating drawing and paintings about our society. It has been your wish to make Kenya a better place for every citizen, we as future leaders will work hard to achieve your goal and end vices such as corruption since we are the agents for the next generation. Indeed, we will up to your ambitions more than words could say.
John Chiira (Lab Technician)
”We met during our first open day and I was shared my dream of Claire detergent products we produce at the Academy.l will live to remember his wise words of counsel, his humility and his encouragement. He told me simply, "Believe in yourself and go for it".John FrancisLab Technician, Mpesa Foundation Academy
Your death was just but the last chapter in time but the first chapter in eternity.
Rest In Peace lovely soul
”Every life entails a special story and behind it, a beautiful and bold soul. Every human being has something special to offer. Some, are so special and a treasure to the world because their efforts make a big difference in changing someone’s entire life. It is only when such a beautiful soul parts that we realize our emotional world suffers a deficit.
I cannot help the warm feeling deep down in my heart when I think of Bob Collymore. All the enthusiasm he showed whenever he would put a mark on a young persons life. His bold smile was more than motivation to many of us who looked up to him.
It is barely three and a half years since i got to know him much better. I remember the night when all the Mpesa foundation academy pioneer students arrived on campus. There was nothing more satisfying that evening than knowing I was going to be in the same room dinning with a renowned business guru. The climax of it all was the delivery of the students speech in appreciation for the great life changing experience.Every time I looked up and saw the brightness in his face, I felt stronger on stage.Nothing beyond simplicity and satisfaction seemed to matter in his world.
I recall a visit at kasarani for the safaricom Jazz back in 2017. My friend Ashley and I spotted him comfortably sitting besides his beautiful wife watching young Kenyans expressing the art of music. Out of fondness, we decided to steal a selfie with him before proceeding to say Hae. Funny enough, he was posing for the photo already. “I saw this coming” he said to us.
Bob being a quick person to spark a conversation, he went ahead .“How is life at the academy my girls?” He asked.I still remember his words of advice, “ Always be responsible in all aspects of your lives and be accountable for every step you take.” This has helped me to grow knowing to be respectful and able to account for every action I take. He spoke of importance of self belief and all he wanted was a better place for the upcoming generations.
My parting shot for this hero,Bezzy MakenaForm 4, Mpesa Foundation Academy
“You were a man of substance and a father to many of us, with a good heart and a source of blessing to many. Where you are, I am more than sure you want all of us to be happy. We will put our best feet forward and be strong for this, but what brings a cheer in my heart is knowing you rest contented. I will miss you Bob.
For as long as I can, Bob, you will remain a hero. You are a perfect definition of determination, humility and above all intrinsic strength. Your memories shall never depart from our minds neither will your place in our hearts be replaced. With great love for your occupation and acts of kindness, you have left for a better place. May your soul rest in eternal peace. We love you Bob.
Peter Muthondeki (Lab Technician)
”In the rather long history of my association with humanity, the dictates of my conscience have it that its not by accident that people meet with others alongside lifespans. The few minutes stretching to hours of meeting and have a serious conversation with Bob was what one would only really describe as humbling. Communicating so fruitfully with someone who can almost purchase me including all my holdings with his worth, so attachedly wasn't something I would call 'commonplace'. Before I joined MFA I had a project I always wanted to discuss with Safaricom CEO but I always thought that it'd be such a daunting task to follow the protocol to reach the CEOs desk and as such I'd opine to just let it lay low despite its humongous networth. So on that day he visited my workplace I'd be more fascinated than feel privileged to hear him ask me , "Gentleman how's been your day?" "Quite OK". I'd quip thinking that maybe its a let-me-pass-you-by question but he'd stand there and prolong the conversation.Peter MuthondekiLab Technician, Mpesa Foundation Academy
Then he'd ask me how we are taking up the innovation aspect of our values. Then I'd gloriously describe what we were doing which he was quite eager to listen to. After he was satisfied then I led him back to the reception as we talked about the project which he told me he'd give me an appointment to meet him in his office at a later date which amazed me. The ease with which he'd organise that. This felt like a dream come true. Basically, though he may have left with the unconcluded engagement, I feel accomplished to some extent just having communicated with a great individual. Especially having steered the making workplace as human as possible and the heart of connectivity with the most downtrodden by life and uplifting their spirits and giving them the opportunities they may have missed alongside their living. Fare-thee-well Humble man. May God receive thee well and Give you eternal Rest. RIP Mr. Bob.