In the previous issue of Transform, our quarterly customer magazine, we highlighted how financial barriers and infrastructure constraints have made urban populations across the emerging world accustomed to using services delivered in innovative and creative ways. Where the need is greatest, innovation thrives.
What’s great is the fact that enabling service delivery across both emerging as well as remote areas often drives real socio-economic impact. As Christele Delbe, Vodafone Group Head of Sustainability, explains: “Our mobile services are transforming access to financial services but also local communities’ ability to access energy, water, education, health and agricultural services.”
The best way for Vodafone to deliver socio-economic benefits is to understand our customers’ needs and deliver commercially successful services. This article presents eight short stories which each have a true and lasting sustainability impact because they address human needs through a scalable business model.
1: Paying Dividends in Kenya
Access to financial services is limited in emerging markets like Kenya; some people can’t get a bank account and others can’t even get to a bank. With our mobile payments solution, M-Pesa, we’re breaking down these barriers. We’re enabling M-Pesa’s millions of users to connect to the financial services they need, using their mobile phones alone. Users can transfer money to family and friends, pay for goods in shops, access savings accounts, take out insurance and loans and even receive dividends. All, without a bank account.
2: Readyset in Tanzania
Billions of people worldwide stay connected using mobile phones. For most of us, powering them couldn’t be easier – but in Tanzania, where only 14% of the 46 million population are connected to the grid, it’s a different story. Here, charging a phone often means long-distance travel and long waits. Now though, with our solar-powered mobile phone charging system, Readyset, this is finally changing. Readyset charges up to eight mobile phones a day, from a single solar charge. Local shopkeepers offer the service and its popularity is helping them boost their footfall and their income. Communities across Tanzania can now power their phones in a cleaner, greener, cheaper way – without the long journey.
3: Farmers Club in Turkey
By 2050, the world will need to produce 70% more food to satisfy the global population. But with limited land and water resources, farmers are under huge pressure to improve productivity. The Vodafone Farmers’ Club service in Turkey helps by sending members text message alerts about weather forecasts, crop prices and other information tailored to their local area and crop types, via specially-designed rugged mobile phones. The programme is flourishing and in 2012/13 alone, more than 770,000 farmers subscribed to the club, around 300 million alerts were sent and productivity improved by an estimated €190 million.
4: Vaccination Management - Mozambique
Every child deserves access to medical care. But for some 20% of the world’s children, even vital vaccinations are off limits. Together with our partners, GlaxoSmithKline, Save the Children and the Mozambique Ministry of Health, we want to change that. Starting in Mozambique, we’re using mobile technology to better connect communities, care workers and healthcare providers. We’re raising awareness of vaccinations among expectant mothers, sending caregivers reminders about appointments, enabling healthcare workers to keep accurate records more efficiently, and are even helping to reduce supply problems by providing real-time stock updates. There’s a long way to go, but we’re off to a fantastic start.
5: New Money Solutions in Tanzania
In emerging markets like Tanzania, migrant workers often rely on international transfers to send money home to their families. Wiring money can be expensive though – particularly for small amounts. To help, we’ve partnered with Safaricom to help launch M-Shwari: a new low-cost mobile banking service available to M-Pesa customers. M-Shwari allows users to send and receive funds internationally via their mobile phones, without the need for a bank account. They can connect to more than 21 international money transfer businesses in 35 countries, save money, earn interest and even access loans.
6: English Lessons in India
In India, speaking English can improve job prospects and increase earning power by up to four times. But with access to education in rural areas limited and many children never even entering the education system, there are few opportunities to learn a new language. To help, we’ve launched ‘Hello to English’ – a service that enables those in remote and rural areas to use a basic mobile phone as a ‘virtual classroom’ to learn English. Students are spared the cost of travelling to a physical classroom, instead connecting with teachers over the phone and receiving tests via text message.
7: Empowering Women in Qatar
There are many ways we support sustainability. While often it’s through providing services or technology, a project we’ve launched in Qatar is a bit different. Here, we’re helping a new generation of career-savvy women fulfil their aspirations by getting on the career ladder and becoming star saleswomen. We provide professional training to prepare and motivate them, plus their own ‘mobile shop on wheels’. In return, they gain financial independence, new-found confidence – and a whole new connection with their community.
8: Mobile Broadband in Italy
It may be less than an hour’s drive outside of Italy’s cosmopolitan capital but with no internet connection, the traditional village of Olevano once felt a world away. Like thousands of villages worldwide, Olevano was cut off from communication and unable to persuade its local telecoms provider to invest in a broadband connection. Now, through our ‘Thousand Villages’ initiative, we’re changing this. We’re connecting remote villages to mobile broadband and giving communities like Olevano the fast, reliable internet access they want – helping them transform education, business and their relationships with the whole world.