Wednesday, June 24, 2009

MTN Foundation extends rural projects to 30 states

MTN Nigeria Foundation has extended its Rural Telephone Project (RTP) to 30 states, with a target of 3,000 entrepreneurs nationwide.

The project is being delivering in collaboration with the Growing Business Foundation, International Finance Corporation (IFC) and three micro finance institutions.

The Executive Secretary, MTN Nigeria Foundation, Ms Nonny Nduka-Eze, told newsmen at a briefing in Lagos and said that the project heralds the fourth phase of MTNF rural project which will potentially serve as a catalyst for telephony services in the rural area and poverty eradication as well as wealth creation.

According to her, the project is to provide sustainable means of livelihood for rural women through the provision of telecommunications services, which serves as the flagship project under the Economic Empowerment portfolio of MTNF.

The rural project initially launched seven years ago with five key beneficiaries in Enugu State, she said, today boasts of over 1,500 rural entrepreneurs across 20 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

“We have several success stories, the presence of one of the Ogene Multipurpose Cooperative Society is a demonstration of the success of the Rural Telephone Project,” she said, noting that the group was set by the first set of RTP women beneficiaries.

Today, she said, they have become employers of labour and even built a recognized Microfinance institution.

She also said that MTNF assessment of RTP indicated that wealth creation for phone ladies is on the average total income increasing by 200 per cent, which means that women can provide better for children and extended family members.

Equally, she recognized the fact that increased opportunities is available for the phone ladies, thereby, increasing the social status of women, just as the capacity building of micro finance institutions helps to enhance productivity in the community due to access to telecommunications services.

“Thousands of rural dwellers can now access telecommunications as a result of the project,” she said.

In the current phase of the project, Ms Nduka-Eze said that MTNF hope to provide ‘start-up’ loans for 3,000 entrepreneurs spread across 30 states of the federation.

“The loans will be administered by micro-finance institutions through Growing
Business Foundation,’ she said.

Stressing that the loan usually will be converted to phones, antennae, solar chargers, Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards and recharge cards, all the tools needed for the business.

Additionally, she said, MTNF would provide other tools of trade including branded parasol umbrellas, banners, money pouch, tables and chairs, free-of-charge.

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