This is in addition to about 354 women in over 100 communities in eight states (Edo, Kwara, Kogi, Kaduna, Borno, Enugu, Akwa-Ibom, and Oyo) already empowered by the project, reports Leonard Okachie.
Disclosing this in Lagos at the Rural Telephone Project press conference, MTN Foundation’s Executive Director, Mrs Amina Oyagbola said MTN is committed towards bringing great economic relief to thousands of rural women.
Amina said the aim of the project which was initiated in 2002 with only five women beneficiaries from Enugu State, is to empower rural women economically and give them a hand up not a hand out towards self- sustenance.
“Through this project, they are empowered to start call centres in their communities. They are equipped with a handset, SIM pack, airtime, and promotional materials – a branded umbrella and wind vane, as well as antennae and battery pack. In addition, they are trained to run a micro-finance business through learning about basic book-keeping, GSM technology, customer relationship management and so on,” she stated.
The executive director explained that the project is a practical demonstration that empowering a woman translates to empowering the nation because of their invaluable role as homemakers, care givers and co-providers.
“Through the rural telephone project, we are delivering a strong message of female empowerment and transformation of the family, the community, the economy and nation at large. By the end of this year, we hope to have 1,500 beneficiaries in 22 states of the federation spanning over 500 communities”, she revealed.
Also the Chairman of Growing Business Foundation (GBF), Rev. Fr Obiora Eke, lauded MTN for its initiatives of empowering rural women, even as he described its partnership with MTN as a win- win affair.
Speaking on the RTP expansion, Fr. Eke said, “Alone in 2007, we will have empowered 11,000 women in 15 states across the six geopolitical zones, including the Niger Delta.”
Similarly, the Operation Officer of International Finance Corporation (IFC), Colin Shephard, who commended MTN for its foresight, said IFC is also committed towards partnering with MTN, Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and local microfinance institutions in expanding access to telecommunications service in the rural areas.Three out of the five women beneficiaries of the pilot test from Enugu state who were present at the event expressed gratitude to MTN for transforming their lives. They were Messrs Felicia Nnaji, Gloria Eze Okafor, and Edith Onodugo.