Our contribution to the MDGs

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

Our contribution to the MDGs

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. We also channel social investment in programmes that promote sustainable development through the Vodafone Foundation1.

In these ways, we have been contributing to the global effort to alleviate poverty as defined by the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for 2015. The sections below set out examples of how we are contributing to each of the eight MDGs.

In March 2015, the United Nations proposed 17 goals for sustainable development to build on the foundations of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were established in 2000 to be achieved by the end of 2015. Focused in part on ending poverty and hunger, and improving health and access to healthcare for women and girls, Vodafone and the Vodafone Foundation will continue to contribute to these goals through our programmes.

For more on how our products and services are contributing to sustainable development, see Transformational solutions. For further 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 access to mobile telecommunications contributes to economic development by helping to increase productivity and national GDP in emerging markets. It is estimated that a 10% expansion in mobile penetration in developing markets could lead to a 4.2% increase in total productivity, which in turn drives GDP2.

Mobile solutions in specific areas such as finance and agriculture also support economic development.

Improving access to finance

Vodafone’s mobile money transfer and payment product, M-Pesa, supports economic development by providing access to basic financial services in emerging markets for people without bank accounts. It enables people to send and receive funds, save even small amounts, and take out loans or insurance. Now well established in both Kenya and Tanzania, M-Pesa continues to have a strong and growing presence in Africa. Since 2013, it has been extended to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, India, Lesotho, Mozambique, Romania and South Africa. There are now 19.9 million active M-Pesa users, up 18% from 2013/14.

See Financial inclusion.

Boosting agricultural productivity

Our Connected Farming in India (pdf, 2.9 MB) report, published in 2015, explored the potential impact of six mobile services designed to improve the productivity and efficiency of agricultural businesses in India. Our research has shown that together the six services could positively impact the lives of nearly 70 million Indian farmers in 2020, generating more than $9 billion in additional annual income for farmers.

This research built on findings from our Connected Agriculture report (pdf, 2.2 MB), published in 2011, which found that mobile technology could boost agricultural income by US$138 billion by 2020, primarily in India, Africa and the Middle East.

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 2014/15, the Connected Farmer Alliance announced its first commercial agreements with Olam International (a coffee, cocoa and cotton agribusiness) and Kenya Nut (a nut processor). Olam will use our mobile technology to increase the productivity of around 30,000 farmers in Tanzania who supply its produce. The farmers will benefit from advice, access to M-Pesa and real-time notifications about changes in market prices of their crops. Kenya Nut aims to reach 50,000 nut farmers in Africa to promote better communications, improve traceability, enhance payment security and promote business efficiency. Delivered by Safaricom (our associate), the service will connect these farmers to training sessions, deliver electronic receipts so they can easily track the value, volume and quality of their produce, as well as providing access to M-Pesa payment and loan services.

In Turkey, the Vodafone Farmers’ Club service uses mobile technology to give farmers the information they need to improve their harvests and livelihoods, saving them time and money. Since its launch in 2009, the service has benefitted more than 1.25 million farmers in Turkey. To date, more than 700 million SMS alerts with weather forecasts, crop prices and other information tailored to local areas and crop types have been sent to members.

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 target 70,000 underprivileged children in India over three years. The service uses innovative software and mobile internet to train teachers and help them engage students with interactive learning materials and multi-media content.

The Vodafone Foundation is also helping children living in refugee camps gain access to education. In partnership with Italian NGO Don Bosco, the Vodafone Foundation opened the first Instant Network School for children living in refugee camps in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2013. Following the success of this pilot, the Vodafone Instant Network programme expanded in 2014/15 and 26,400 students and 500 teachers across South Sudan and Kenya now benefit from Instant Network Schools.

To support the roll out of Instant Network Schools, the Vodafone Foundation developed Instant Classroom, a digital ‘school in a box’ that can be set up within minutes to connect teachers and children to online resources even where power and internet connectivity is unreliable or non-existent. Instant Classroom was launched in March 2015, in partnership with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and will be deployed to additional schools in Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and Tanzania with the aim of reaching more than 60,000 children and young people over the next two years.

See Education and employment.

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 Education and employment).

Our Connected Women (pdf, 4.2 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 2020.3

We are helping female entrepreneurs manage their businesses more efficiently and increase their incomes. For example, Vodafone Turkey’s ‘Women First’ programme 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 2014/15, the Vodafone Foundation launched the #DigitalRickshaw campaign in India to set up Digital Communication Information Resource Centres in 20 locations across the country. The centres empower local women to use computers, learn about digital media and access literacy programmes and information on beneficial government schemes.

In focus: Helping women at risk of domestic violence through TecSOS

We are 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 victims at high risk of abuse connect to emergency services at the touch of a button. There are currently 15,733 TecSOS handsets in use in Germany, Italy, Hungary, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and UK. Since 2004 the handset has helped 41,211 victims of domestic violence.

Find out more about TecSOS on the Vodafone Foundation’s website.

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.

In 2014/15, we became one of the first organisations in the world to launch a mandatory minimum global maternity policy. This pioneering policy sets a minimum level of maternity pay for women working across Vodafone’s 30 local markets. From Africa to the Middle East, women at all levels of our organisation will be entitled to at least 16 weeks of fully paid maternity leave and full pay for a 30-hour week for the first six months after they return to work (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.

In sub-Saharan Africa, we are working with GSK, the Mozambique Ministry of Health, USAID and others on the mVacciNation pilot programme, which aims to boost child vaccination rates by around 5% in Mozambique. Over 25,500 children have been registered with the programme since its launch in March 2014 and 40,000 vaccinations have been recorded. Using our mobile health solutions, the programme has also provided over 4,000 real-time reports on the number of doses of vaccines available. In 2014/15, we began evaluating this pilot and will use what we have learned to make improvements as we roll it out to a further 90 health centres across the country. In India, our free SMS-based service reminded parents across the country to get their children vaccinated. Parents can opt in by sending a message from any mobile network in India. They receive immediate confirmation followed by reminders about their child’s immunisation schedule for a period of 12 years. By the end of 2014/15, 300,000 children had been enrolled in this collaborative programme with the Indian Academy of Paediatrics.

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

Goal 5: Improve maternal health

Improve maternal health

Using our mobile health solutions, we are helping to improve women’s maternal health and access to life-saving treatments.

‘Mobilising Maternal Health in Tanzania’, a $14 million programme, is funded with support from the American people as part of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The Vodafone Foundation implements the programme through partnerships with the Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania (CCBRT), Pathfinder International and the Touch Foundation in Tanzania.

Since the launch of the programme in 2009, more than 3,000 women have received treatment for obstetric fistula, a maternal health condition that leaves women incontinent following childbirth. Through the M-Pesa Text to Treatment programme, the CCBRT hospital was able to transfer money to pay for some of the poorest and most marginalised women to get to hospital for life-changing surgery. As we have treated more women it has become increasingly challenging to find the women with obstetric fistula in rural areas. We are discussing with CCBRT how they can partner with other health NGO partners to help reach women with obstetric fistula and provide free transport to surgery via M-Pesa.

The programme is expanding to help rural health workers identify women at risk of complicated births and transport them to health facilities where they can give birth safely.

In partnership with the Swiss Re Foundation, Pathfinder International and Touch Foundation, the Vodafone Foundation is working to improve access to better healthcare facilities for pregnant women to prevent maternal morbidity and mortality. Together, we have supported training in maternal, neonatal and child health to 125 community health workers and 53 health facility workers, as well as improving maternal healthcare facilities at the regional hospital.

Visit the Vodafone Foundation’s website for more on Text to Treatment.

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 are using our technology to help loveLife, a national HIV prevention initiative in South Africa, reach more young people living with HIV/AIDS. loveLife’s 1,250 young community leaders work with NGOs, schools and clinics to meet face-to-face with young people across South Africa and promote healthy, HIV-free living. Using our monitoring system to track their activities, we enabled loveLife to capture data and report back in real time.

Additionally, we are working with GSK, the Mozambique Ministry of Health, USAID and others on the mVacciNation pilot programme, which aims to boost child vaccination rates by around 5% in Mozambique. In India, our free SMS-based service reminds parents across the country to get their children vaccinated (see Goal 4 above).

In Lesotho, the Vodafone Foundation M-Pesa Text to Treatment model used in Tanzania is being replicated to ensure that children living with HIV, can travel from rural communities to health facilities for treatment. First these children have to be found, so through the programme we are training health workers armed with mobile phones and 4x4s to provide mother and baby clinics to affected communities across the Mountain Kingdom. Expectant mothers are referred to clinics for highly effective preventive treatment, with ‘mother and baby pairs’ transported for treatment when either tests positive for HIV. As well as transferring funds for transport for these mothers and babies, mobile technology will also help speed test results, cutting result turnaround from many weeks to just a few days.

For more information, see Health.

Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability

Ensure environmental sustainability

Communications technology can play a significant role in enabling a low carbon economy. It powers innovations that can help individuals and organisations to reduce their carbon footprints while bringing wider social and economic benefits.

Building on our Carbon Connections research, we have been working with the Carbon Trust to quantify the carbon savings that Vodafone products and services can bring for our customers through smart metering, smart logistics and fleet management, call conferencing, and cloud and hosting services. Based on this analysis, we estimate the total carbon savings from Vodafone’s solutions in these areas was 3.5 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent for active connections in 2014/15, 50% more than in 2012/13.

We have set a new goal for our business linking our aim to minimise our own carbon footprint with the savings we can help our customers make: within three years we aim to enable our customers to reduce their carbon emissions by twice the amount of carbon we generate through our own activities.

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.

Read more about how we are Enabling a low carbon economy, Empowering sustainable choices and Minimising our carbon footprint.

In focus: Bringing solar power to rural communities

We are helping bring power to people with no access to electricity. In 2014/15, over 5,000 solar powered generators, connected by Vodafone M2M SIMs, were distributed by BBOXX, delivering off-grid power in over 40 countries including Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.

Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development

Develop a global partnership for development

Telecommunications network operators can help bridge the digital divide by providing equipment and infrastructure to people who live in remote areas or at the margins of society. Working in collaboration with other 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 Pratham Education Foundation, TechnoServe, the Swiss Re Foundation, Pathfinder International, the Touch Foundation, GSK and USAID to develop and implement solutions in the areas of agriculture, education and health.

For more information, see Transformational solutions.

Measuring our contribution

Objective Our performance in 2014/15 Status
Be recognised as a communications company making one of the most significant contributions to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by March 2015 As it is difficult to measure recognition in a meaningful way, we have instead concentrated our efforts on implementing programmes and services that contribute to development. Examples of how we have contributed to each of the MDGs are detailed in the section above. Not measured

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.


  1. Vodafone Foundation registered charity number 1089625. For more information, please go to the Vodafone Foundation.
  2. A report by Deloitte and the GSMA: What is the impact of mobile telephony on economic growth? (pdf, 2.4 MB) (2012)
  3. Based on research conducted by Accenture Sustainability Services for our Connected Women Report (pdf, 4.2 MB), published in March 2014.