Millennium Development Goals

Read how Vodafone is contributing to the global effort to alleviate poverty, as defined by the UN Millennium Development Goals

Vodafone’s contribution to the Millennium Development Goals

By extending access to our networks and developing innovative products and services tailored to emerging market needs, we are contributing to sustainable development and helping to improve people’s lives and livelihoods.

Vodafone is contributing to the global effort to alleviate poverty as defined by the UN Millennium Development Goals. We channel social investment in programmes that promote sustainable development through our Foundation.

The sections below set out examples of how we are contributing to each of the eight Millennium Development Goals.

For more on how our products and services are contributing to sustainable development, see Transformational solutions in this report. For highlights of our Foundation programmes, see our Foundation website, Mobile for Good.

Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

Research shows that mobile telecommunications contribute to economic development by increasing productivity and raising national GDP in emerging markets. It is estimated that a 10% expansion in mobile penetration leads to a 4.2% increase in GDP in developing markets1.

Mobile solutions in specific areas such as finance and agriculture also support economic development. Vodafone’s mobile money transfer and payment product, M-Pesa, does so by providing access to basic financial services in emerging markets for people without bank accounts – including sending and receiving funds to friends and family, saving even small amounts and the ability to take out loans or insurance. In 2013/14, we launched the service in Mozambique, Lesotho, Romania, Egypt and India. There are now 16.8 million active M-Pesa users, up 18% from 2012/13. See Finance.

Our Connected Agriculture (pdf, 2.1 MB) research estimated that mobile solutions could improve farmers’ productivity to help meet growing global demand for food and increase agricultural income by US$138 billion by 2020 across our markets. It also highlighted the potential for mobile track and trace technology to help reduce food waste by improving food supply chain logistics. We are partnering with other organisations to develop solutions that can contribute to delivering these benefits.

We continue to work with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the development NGO, TechnoServe, in a three year partnership known as the Connected Farmer Alliance. The partnership aims to increase the productivity, incomes and resilience of half a million smallholder farmers across Kenya, Mozambique and Tanzania. In 2013/14, the Alliance launched a pilot with the flower cutting and flower seed agribusiness, Multiflower, based in Arusha, Tanzania. Using a business-to-business supply chain management solution, Multiflower can now communicate with the 4,000 smallholder farmers contracted to grow seeds for the business more efficiently and effectively.

In Turkey, the Vodafone Farmers’ Club service uses mobile technology to give farmers the information they need to improve their harvests and livelihoods – leading to an estimated US$140 million in efficiency savings in 2013/14 alone. In 2013/14, more than 790,000 farmers subscribed to the Farmers’ Club – 20,000 more than the previous year – and around 695 million SMS alerts were sent to farmers.

See Agriculture for more information.

Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education

Achieve universal primary education

Mobile technology can be used to extend the reach of education by enabling students in rural areas to join lessons remotely, and by helping teachers manage student attendance and performance and access educational content.

Our Learn out of the box programme, being implemented by the Vodafone Foundation in India, and developed in partnership with Pratham Education Foundation, aims to improve the standard of education at 1,000 low income schools and targeting 50,000 underprivileged children in India over three years. The service uses innovative software and the mobile internet to train teachers and help them engage students with interactive learning materials and multi-media content.

In 2013, the Vodafone Foundation, in partnership with Italian NGO, Don Bosco and the Qatar Foundation’s Educate a Child programme, opened the first Instant Network School in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The school, in Goma, is enabling over 400–500 children aged 7–17 to access online educational content via tablets provided through the Instant Network mobile education programme. Plans are underway to open additional schools that will benefit more children living in refugee camps in Africa.

See Education.

Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women

Promote gender equality and empower women

Using our mobile technology and services, we are connecting women to education and skills training, expanding access to job opportunities, and helping them improve their livelihoods (see Women).

Our Connected Women (pdf, 4.02 MB) report explores the impact of increasing women’s mobile phone ownership and how mobile services provided by Vodafone and the Vodafone Foundation are enabling women to access new opportunities and improve their lives and livelihoods. Our research suggests that increasing women’s access to mobile and scaling up the five services explored in the report could benefit 8.7 million women and have positive annual economic benefits worth $28.9 billion across Vodafone’s markets by 20202.

We are helping female entrepreneurs manage their businesses more efficiently and increase their incomes. In 2013/14, Vodafone Turkey launched the ‘Women First’ programme, which helps women use mobile technology, access information, acquire new skills and increase their incomes. The Women First Mobile Advertisement Service, a key part of the service, is enabling women with little experience of mobile technology to sell their handicrafts and products on one of Turkey’s biggest online marketplaces using SMS messages.

In India, the Vodafone Foundation, in collaboration with the Self-Employed Women’s Association of India (SEWA) and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, rolled out an SMS-based service that enables small-scale retailers to manage their businesses more efficiently and increase their income. The service enables users to place orders, record their transactions and manage stock levels in real time – reducing the time spent collecting their stock from central warehouses and improving their productivity. Since it started in 2013, over 1,300 women involved in the pilot have increased their incomes, some by up to three times. We are now extending the service to more districts of Gujarat, India.

Helping women at risk of domestic violence through TecSOS

We are also empowering women in more developed markets. The TecSOS mobile phone system, developed by the Vodafone Spain Foundation with the Spanish Red Cross and the TecSOS Foundation, is helping women at high risk of abuse connect to emergency services at the touch of a button. More than 31,900 victims (both male and female) in six European countries.

In our own operations, gender equality is a priority in our Diversity and Inclusion agenda. We have a wide range of initiatives, which are part of our Diversity and Inclusion strategy, to ensure we support female employees in developing their careers, and that women represent a growing proportion of management positions (see Our people).

Goal 4: Reduce child mortality

Reduce child mortality

Mobile technology can significantly improve the efficiency of healthcare services, particularly in remote areas. As a founding partner of the mHealth Alliance – a public‐private partnership designed to improve child health by accelerating the use of mobile technology by health workers around the world. The Vodafone Foundation is working with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on an innovative public-private partnership to improve child health by accelerating the use of mobile technology by millions of health workers globally. The initiative, known as mPowering Frontline Health Workers, aims to improve access to information, technology and help health workers share their experience and expertise.

Our three year partnership with the GAVI Alliance is exploring how health ministries in sub-Saharan Africa can use mobile technology solutions to improve rates of immunisation and access to vaccines for children.

We have also formed a partnership with global healthcare provider GSK and in March 2014 we launched mVacciNation, a pilot project in the Nampula province of Mozambique that aims to boost child vaccination rates by approximately 5%. Mobile technology will be used to raise awareness of the importance of vaccinations among caregivers – focusing particularly on children under one year old – and send them reminders about scheduled appointments.

In India, we launched a new free SMS-based service, in collaboration with the Indian Academy of Paediatrics, to remind parents when they need to get their children vaccinated. Parents across the country can opt into the service by sending a message from any mobile network in India. They receive immediate confirmation followed by reminders about their child’s immunisation schedule for 12 years. We aim to help prevent 500,000 child deaths and disabilities by the end of 2018.

Our mobile health enablement platform is improving access to healthcare and supporting the treatment of children (see video below) by helping healthcare workers to reduce time spent on administration, enabling them to see more patients and improve health outcomes by identifying issues more quickly, in South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania.

For more information on our mobile health solutions, see Health.

Helping improve patient care in South Africa

Goal 5: Improve maternal health

Improve maternal health

The Vodafone Foundation has been working with the Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania (CCBRT), an NGO, to treat women with obstetric fistula, a maternal health condition that leaves women incontinent following childbirth and consequently outcast from their communities (see video below). The CCBRT hospital uses the M-Pesa mobile transfer system to send money to local ambassadors who arrange travel for women who would otherwise be unable to reach the hospital for corrective surgery. Known as the Text to Treatment programme, this initiative has helped to increase the number of women receiving treatment significantly – 713 women were treated in 2013, compared with just 168 in 2009, before this initiative was introduced. More than 70% of the women receiving surgery used the M-Pesa Text to Treatment programme to get to the hospital.

Tackling obstetric fistula in Tanzania

Vodafone Foundation is working with the Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania (CCBRT) to support women with obstetric fistula.

The programme is delivered by the Vodafone Foundation as part of its Mobile for Good programme3.

In 2013/14 the Vodafone Foundation extended its maternal health programme to rural regions in Tanzania. Working with Swiss Re Foundation and Pathfinder International (an NGO), the Foundation is providing training to community healthcare workers in maternal, neonatal and child health to better connect pregnant women to healthcare facilities and prevent maternal deaths.

In Kenya, our mobile health enablement platform has been used as part of KimMNCHip, a programme that aims to reduce infant and maternal mortality. KimMNCHip is helping to improve mother and child health records in clinics and to strengthen community outreach services, such as health referral services, and tracking of nutrition and HIV information.

For more information, see Health.

Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

Combat hiv/aids, malaria and other diseases

Training and awareness-raising, coupled with innovative distribution and administration services, can play a role in addressing the world’s most pressing health problems.

We also began a three year partnership with the GAVI Alliance to explore how health ministries in sub-Saharan Africa can use mobile technology solutions to improve access to vaccines and rates of immunisation as up to 20% of children worldwide do not receive vital vaccinations. We have pledged an in-kind contribution of US$1.5 million to the partnership. Additionally, we formed a partnership with global healthcare provider GSK and in 2013 will launch a pilot with the Mozambique Ministry of Health that aims to boost vaccination rates (see Goal 4).

Our mobile health enablement platform is supporting more than 1,200 young community volunteers, who work in over 880 communities, as part of South Africa’s largest national HIV prevention initiative, loveLife.

For more information, see Health.

Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability

Ensure environmental sustainability

Our solutions in four key areas – smart metering, smart logistics and fleet management, call conferencing, and cloud and hosting services - are helping organisations to tackle climate change by helping them to reduce their energy and fuel use, work more efficiently, and therefore cut costs and carbon emissions. Our research in 2013 with the Carbon Trust found that Vodafone’s solutions in these areas could save an estimated 2.29 million tonnes of CO2e in 2012/13, which is almost the same as the net carbon footprint of 2.36 million tonnes of CO2e for our own operations in the same year.

Access to power remains a key issue for many of our customers and a barrier to economic development. We are developing solutions to bring reliable, renewable power to remote communities in emerging markets using our own network infrastructure and tailored solar-charging solutions. We have launched two solar-powered solutions, ReadySet and M-KOPA, to help provide more efficient ways of lighting and mobile phone charging for homes without electricity.

ReadySet, a portable, solar-powered mobile phone charging system has provided an estimated 1.2 million phone charges to people who live off the grid. We also offer a solar-powered home lighting kit in partnership with M-KOPA in Kenya, using our M-Pesa system to make payments, which provides modern, cleaner and cost-efficient lighting and mobile phone charging for homes.

ReadySet brings renewable charging to remote areas

In a pilot in South Africa we installed solar panels at a school near our base station in Emfihlweni in order to provide cleaner power to the base station. The excess power generated was used by the local school to provide access to lighting and power and to power a community water pump.

See more on our Low carbon solutions, and the measures we are taking to reduce our own Environmental footprint.

Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development

Develop a global partnership for development

Telecommunications network operators can help bridge the digital divide through the provision of equipment and infrastructure to people who live at the margins of society. Working in collaboration with organisations, NGOs and governments is central to our strategy to deliver transformational products and services.

We are collaborating with major public and private sector organisations such as, the GAVI Alliance, the Pratham Education Foundation, TechnoServe, GSK, UNICEF, Unilever, USAID and the World Health Organisation, to develop and implement solutions in the areas of agriculture, education and health.

For more information, see Transformational solutions.

Measuring our contribution

  • Ongoing
  • Achieved
  • Partial
  • Not achieved
Objective Our performance in 2013/14 Status
Be recognised as a communications company making one of the most significant contributions to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by March 2015 We continued to contribute to the MDGs by increasing our network coverage to bring access to communications in emerging markets, while partnering with others to develop products and services that promote development in areas such as Agriculture, Education, Finance and Health. We also contribute to Goal 7 on environmental sustainability through our Low carbon solutions and our efforts to reduce our own Environmental footprint. Ongoing objective

Find out more about the wide-ranging research we have carried out into the potential for telecommunications to positively impact social, economic and environmental development here.


  1. A report by Deloitte and the GSMA: What is the impact of mobile telephony on economic growth? (2012)
  2. Based on research conducted by Accenture Sustainability Services for our Connected Women Report (pdf, 4.02 MB), published in March 2014.
  3. Vodafone Foundation registered charity number 1089625. For more information, please go to the Vodafone Foundation.