Bob Collymore was a Guyanese-born British businessman who served as the chief executive officer of Safaricom, a multinational telecommunications company based in Kenya.
Collymore was born in Guyana and raised by his grandparents there. At the age of 16, he moved to join his mother in the United Kingdom, attending Selhurst High School.
From 1993, Collymore worked in various positions in the telecommunications industry in the UK, including work for Cellnet, Dixons Retail and Vodafone UK. In 2003 he moved to Japan to manage the integration of J-Phone into the Vodafone Group. In 2006 he became the governance director for Africa at Vodafone and subsidiary Safaricom. In 2010 he was appointed chief executive officer of Safaricom
Bob Collymore is credited with an ambitious growth plan that oversaw a smooth transition from the company’s first CEO, the legendary Michael Joseph, and then proceeded to innovate popular and successful products.
Under his watch, Safaricom continuously expanded its portfolio from offering just voice and SMS into other areas such as education, agriculture, health and financial services.
When he took over Safaricom, the number of subscribers had reached 13.5 million, with 21,000 agents scattered in every corner of the country. In six years, that Collymore was at the helm, the number of subscribers almost doubled to 26 million served by more than 100,000 agents.
By 2018, Safaricom was the undisputed king of companies in East and Central Africa. Its record profits surpassed the combined net earnings reported by blue chip companies KCB Group, Equity Group and East African Breweries Limited, underscoring the telco’s heft in the country’s economy.
The coming of Fuliza by Safaricom in 2019, took over the market by storm, continuing Safaricoms’s tradition of market leadership. It provided Kenyans with the ability to transact, pay for goods and services even when their Mobile money accounts (M-Pesa) account is zero. According to Collymore, Fuliza exceeded expectations on its eighth day. On day eight, the overdraft facility had already received one million customers and issued 10 million US dollars as an overdraft.
In Dec 2017, Collymore revealed he was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), a rare blood cancer characterized by the rapid growth of abnormal cells in the bone marrow and which interferes with normal blood cells
He underwent treatment at University College London Hospitals (UCHL) in London, United Kingdom.
He returned to Kenya in July 2018 to resume his duties as CEO of Safaricom while undergoing treatment at a number of hospitals.
Thrice married and twice divorced, Bob Collymore’s final marriage in April 2016, was to Wambui Kamiru, an artist, and the founder of The Art Space. In an interview when he opened up about his personal life, he remarked,
"Each time [I marry] it's got better. Each time the match has been better. There is stuff I couldn't have done better for sure".
His condition worsened in June 2019 and he died at his home on the morning of 1 July 2019