Vodacom Tanzania has been voted the best telecommunications company in the provision of financial services in the country in the just ended Financial Services week held in Dar es Salaam.
The four-day exhibition, which was organized by NUEBRAND Company, saw Vodacom emerge top in the telecommunications sector for its role in supporting women entrepreneurs in Tanzania through its M-Pesa Women Empowerment Initiative (MWEI) project.
MWEI is a Vodacom Foundation initiative that enables businesswomen to access loans through Vodacom’s M-PESA service and also to repay the loans through the same service.
The interest-free loans are given to small-scale businesswomen who do not qualify for loans from community and commercial l banks but are interested in setting up small businesses in their communities, said Vodacom Tanzania MD Rene Meza.
The loans range from Tsh 60,000 to Tsh 100,000 for first-timers and Tsh 150,000 and above for those who have repaid their loans and require additional funding.
“Since the inception of MWEI, the Vodacom Foundation has disbursed over Tsh150 million to 10,000 women entrepreneurs in a total of 18 districts in the country,” said Meza, adding that, “the Vodacom Foundation has earmarked a further Tsh450 million in the 2012/2013 financial year in order to reach more women across the country.”
For her part, the Vodacom Foundation’s Social Welfare Manager, Grace Lyon, said MWEI was established to augment the various development initiatives in rural communities through empowering women economically.
The projects that MWEI has supported to date include: batik making, food vending, setting up market stalls, selling of soft drinks, cereals (maize, rice, wheat, sorghum, soya) and artifacts, poultry farming and charcoal making in some areas.
“We as a Vodacom Foundation first train the women on how to manage their businesses before we disburse the loans to them,” said Lyon.
The Vodacom Foundation has three main pillars: Health, Education, and Social Welfare. The Foundation has supported over 120 projects in Tanzania and has won both national and international awards in the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) arena. These include the East African CSR Awards and the Diversion and Inclusion Award within the Vodafone Group in Milan.
Vodacom Tanzania Limited is Tanzania’s leading cellular network offering state-of-the-art GSM communication services across the country. Vodacom Tanzania is a subsidiary company of Vodacom Group (Pty) Limited, South Africa, a subsidiary of Vodafone Group UK. Vodacom Group owns a majority stake of 65 percent; the remaining 35 percent is owned by Mirambo Ltd.