Telecom operator Uninor is going to take an initiative called ‘Project Sampark’. It announced that it had received a grant of US$ 70,000 by GSMA’s Mobile for Development Foundation for the pilot phase of the project. It is a seven-month long project which seeks to address the socio-economic reasons behind gender mobile access gap and empower women through ownership and use of mobile phones.
An investment of about US$ 183,654 has been made in this joint initiative of Uninor and GSMA to enhance telecom industry in rural pockets of the country. Initially, the project will be launched in UP(West), UP(East) and Bihar, and after measuring its results and accessing the impact, the project will be rolled out in Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. It targets to add 6,000 new subscribers in rural areas a month, with at least half of them being women.
Morten Karlsen Sorby, CEO, Uninor, stated, "The launch of ‘Project Sampark’ is a first step in the direction to using mobile connectivity to deal with the developmental challenge of gender disparity in mobile usage. This project will be truly path-breaking in its intent as well it will be self-sustainable, scalable and continue to provide livelihood opportunities for women while building awareness of the benefits of mobile connectivity."
About 40 women and four supervisors, mainly Anganwadi and ASHA supporters, would participate in the pilot phase of the project to be launched in 87 villages of Aligarh district of Western UP. These women promoters will sell mobile prepaid connections and recharge vouchers at the customer’s door step. An innovative product called ‘Jodi Pack’- a pair of SIMs linked to each other, sharing benefits of recharge or talk time top-up – will be introduced to appeal to male members of the family so that they&nb sp;allow women to own mobile phones.
Uninor operators will also spread awareness through street plays and outbound call centers to constantly serve onboarding new customers, handholding them to explain the usage and benefits of the mobile phone.
“We see this as a huge opportunity from an operator’s point of view. This is just not part of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility, but a self-sustaining business model. This project makes commercial sense to us as well as become an important tool to provide women livelihood,” Rajeev Sethi ,Chief Marketing Officer, Uninor stated.
Uninor is majority owned subsidiary of Telenor Group – one of the major mobile operators