Vodafone Delivers Purpose in Action

R. Pritchard

Summary Bullets:

  • Vodafone is seeking to demonstrate how it uses technology to address connected education and connected health markets in both developed and developing countries.
  • Propositions such as ‘school in a box’ and m-mama in Africa have helped in delivering the education sector and safer healthcare for pregnant women.

Vodafone recently presented examples of its Purpose initiative, whose goal is stated to be “we connect for a better future by enabling inclusive and sustainable digital societies.” The three pillars of this strategy are Digital Society (connecting people, places, and things and digitizing critical sectors); Inclusion For All (ensuring no one is left behind in a digital society); and Planet (tackling the climate crisis, reducing carbon emissions, and helping others reduce theirs). These all demonstrate practical implementations of the company’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) agenda, as well as demonstrating that offering socially useful applications can also be a commercial opportunity.

For digital education, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the move toward a mobile-first, digital-first delivery, supporting technology solutions with project management and training, which also addresses the ‘digital divide’ that has become a significant issue across all societies and nations. Vodafone’s Connected Education now serves 5,000 educational institutions with 1.7 million students/educators (monthly users) across 14 countries to help bridge the gap.

In the connected living space, solutions are being driven both by socio-economic trends such as the cost of supporting an aging population, as well as addressing the needs of the elderly and people with learning difficulties and their careers/families through a mobile app. This relies on the end user being familiar and comfortable with using smartphones, considering many elderly people still rely on mobile devices with simple functions and big buttons. Although the interface can be relatively straightforward for some potential users, it may still prove too difficult or confusing to use for others.

The Vodafone Foundation demonstrated an impressive app called m-mama that was built leveraging the m-pesa finance platform. It provides emergency healthcare support for pregnant women by enabling taxis to transport patients to healthcare facilities (a quasi ‘Uber-ambulance’). Impressively, this has resulted in a 27% reduction in maternal mortality, and it has been used over 14,000 times to date. There are live stats also available on an online dashboard for national healthcare ministries.

Vodafone Foundation’s solutions are fully philanthropic, but only developed if they are sustainable at scale. Traction seems to be strong in Tanzania and Lesotho, as both signed up to the m-mama platform and other African countries looking also to sign up for the service.

These solutions are further examples of a growing range of technology-based propositions that both address a changing world and look to ‘level up’ students and patients across multiple nations and communities and should be applauded for doing so.

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