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Mobile subscribers help community upliftment

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Blue Cellular, in partnership with Contralesa KZN and Amaqhawe Esizwe, has devised a model that will benefit communities at a grassroots level through increased access to connectivity, job creation, and investment in the community.
Prince Zulu, spokesperson for the Amaqhawe Esizwe and Contralesa partnership, says the deal will impact the region positively in three defined ways.
“In the first instance, we will be creating approximately 2 000 jobs in rural and under-accessed areas. Agents will be appointed and trained to sell airtime in the communities. Each agent will act as an entrepreneur, and will be supported and upskilled to ensure their micro business has the best chance of success.
“Secondly, we have negotiated a deal with our partner, Blue Cellular, to secure an across-the-board discount of airtime and data to all our members, meaning this community, in which poverty is prevalent, will gain access to connectivity at a more affordable price.
“Lastly, and in addition to the discounted retail price, Blue Cellular will donate a percentage of every rand spent to a community upliftment fund. This money will be spent on projects determined by the Traditional Leader of the region,” says Zulu.
Barry Taitz, CEO of Blue Cellular, explains that there are 353 traditional leaders who form part of Contralesa KZN. Each of these leaders will have an independent account created into which the charity funds earned from the agents (or resellers of prepaid airtime and data) that report into them, will be paid. These funds will be used for the most pressing projects needed in each community, and can range from education, to housing, water and sanitation.
“Within the next 12 months, 10-million subscribers will be buying their prepaid airtime and data through an agent linked to one of the traditional leaders who form part of this partnership. Not only will the subscribers benefit from free starter packs and discounted pricing, but at no cost to themselves, they will be directly impacting job creation and community upliftment.
“This is one of those rare opportunities in business where we can directly contribute to positive change in the community,” says Taitz. “Having established Blue Cellular as a key player in the rural and informal prepaid mobile market in South Africa and beyond, incorporating meaningful and sustainable CSI into our model is the next logical step, and this opportunity is an extremely powerful vehicle for empowerment for the communities we are working with.”
Taitz adds that in addition to the discounted prepaid data and airtime, the size of the buying group has allowed Blue Cellular to negotiate with regional retailers. “Because we can influence buyer behaviour across an enormous base, we have approached retailers to negotiate loyalty deals – whereby the retailer sponsors data when consumers purchase basic food stuffs.
“We have approached the retailers and offered them a base of 10-million consumers – but in return, we have demanded significant discounts and benefits to our customers. This is another way in which this deal contributes to an ecosystem where aid is provided in a very novel way to those most in need – it truly is a win-win.”
Zulu concludes that corporate South Africa needed to employ lateral thinking with its CSI initiatives to ensure that projects consulted closely with those most attuned to communities, to guarantee sustainability and longevity, and to safeguard the interests of the most vulnerable in society.