Ooredoo and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women have announced an innovative new partnership that will extend the benefits of mobile technology to underserved communities and support women’s entrepreneurship in Myanmar.
With 25% of the population living below the poverty line, there is an urgent need to engage more women in the country’s economic development.
Myanmar is one of the few countries in the world where mobile phones have not yet reached the masses - less than 10% of the population have a mobile phone. Myanmar presents a unique opportunity for Ooredoo, as the company recently obtained a licence to operate a mobile network in the country and will roll out its services to the population of 60 million people.
In Myanmar, Ooredoo and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women are developing a franchisee model to enable 30,000 women by 2016 to become entrepreneurs by selling prepaid Ooredoo airtime to their communities. Each of the women will be equipped with a business kit containing a mobile phone, promotional materials, and an operating manual. They will also receive hands-on training on how to run their businesses.
Research conducted by the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women demonstrates that women entrepreneurs can add significant value to the operations of mobile companies as agents in their retail channels, selling products such as SIM cards and mobile airtime. Selling mobile products is a flexible and easy business, making it an ideal entry point for women entrepreneurs who are able to juggle household and community responsibilities alongside selling mobile services.
The women mobile agents benefit from additional income and, in turn, tend to reinvest their profits back into their families and communities. Other advantages offered to women mobile agents include the fact that they require less start-up capital to launch such businesses and are also more trusted by other women. This means they reach a wider cross-section of society, extending the scope of their businesses and boosting their status in local communities.
H.E. Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al Thani, Chairman, Ooredoo, said: “Across our footprint, we seek to partner with grassroots organisations and NGOs to deliver on-the-ground support that will empower women. As we begin operating in Myanmar, we’re looking to create tens of thousands of new jobs in the retail sector, with a particular focus on engaging women micro-entrepreneurs.”
“Ooredoo and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women have supported thousands of women entrepreneurs in Indonesia, and we’ll use that expertise to enrich the lives of people in Myanmar. Our initiatives will not only enable women to support their families economically, but also make a distinct contribution to Myanmar’s economic development”, he added.
This partnership extends the long-lasting collaboration between the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and Ooredoo. In Indonesia, where Ooredoo’s company Indosat operates, the two organisations have seen strong success on developing the international award winning “Usaha Wanita” (Business Woman) service in partnership with Nokia and the ExxonMobil Foundation, to provide women with entrepreneurial advice through mobile technology.