Tata Communications with its network of partners, including MasterCard, Kiva, Trickle Up, Tone, and Brightstar has the vision to empower 100 million women, both current and potential entrepreneurs, in developing countries over the next five years, through access to transformative mobile platforms.
Tata Communications will realize this vision by taking a non-linear implementation approach as is often taken in the technology sector. It will start with the initial commitment to empower 25,000 women between 2015 and 2017. Detailed here are the partners and the plan to create an initial ecosystem that will reach these 25,000 women and provides them with mobile financial tools and the training access and first applications to utilize these tools. These applications will be identified by the partners based on local context and need.
The handsets and financial tools will work on existing mobile networks and integrate into the local markets.
Microfinance finance institution (MFI) and NGO partners will directly reach the target women through established channels and ongoing relationships. They can now use this mobile platform to enhance such relationships. The mobile platform will not only give the women entrepreneurs new tools, but will now enable them to move to a digital format for loans, collection of payments and information transfer. The partners can also use this platform to measure effectiveness of their programs.
This will create a community of women users that can be served by any other organizations in financial education and health care services through this platform.
This represents the non-linear approach which starts with seeds of women empowerment programs enabled by the partnership model. Each of the partners of the program have success in their own approaches. Bringing them together on the internet platform will create the benefits of network effects. Each such seed is a microcosm of the entire ecosystem. The success of these seeds will act as templates for other microcosms to evolve and be implemented successfully. The replication of these microcosms will enable scale. This is how it will get to 100 million women.
Market-based mechanisms and economic activities are critical for the ecosystem to sustain and thrive.
Tata Communications has unparalleled expertise in creating and operating internet infrastructure and ecosystems across the globe. Tata Communications carries 24% of the global internet routes and it provides access to 99.7 % of worlds GDP. Through partnerships with 1400 telecom operators in more than 100 countries, Tata Communications connects to 3 out of 5 mobile users globally.
This commitment will be executed in three phases: Kick-off, Seed, and Scaling. The pilot program will take place over the Kick-off and Seed phases.
The Kick-off phase, from October 2015 to April 2016, will engage partners in developing implementation steps, activity metrics, communication plan and onboarding additional partners if needed. It will also be used to identify the Seed phase sites, close funding for the seed phase, and identify context-specific implementation plans, as well as source testimonials from the women and the last-mile partners which will be used to attract more participants. It will include one brainstorming session per month with partners, interviews with partners as well as women in disadvantaged regions to start building case studies.
The Seed Phase, from May 2016 to October 2016, will be focused on the program development. It will ensure resource and strategic planning, identification of KPIs, engagement of the women, building case studies, testing metrics and improving methods. It will include one monthly meeting on the pilot-project site to get feedback from the women and assess success, one monthly meeting with partners to get inputs and validate the strategy, monthly meetings with new potential partners to expand the commitment, identify and solidify countries and markets to scale.
The Scaling phase, from November 2016 to December 2020, will be concentrated on enabling replication of the microcosms developed during the Seed phase. It will include two meetings per month with partners in different countries to get feedback, identify wins, best practices and challenges, reassess the implementation strategy if needed, one meeting per two months on-site to witness progress, do interviews with partners and women, get testimonials and ensure lasting results and create a platform to share information and expertise, keep the vision alive, and transform actions into a social commitment.
In the coming decade, three billion people will join the online world. While the first three billion on the net came mainly from the developed world, the next three billion will mainly come from developing regions. The rapid spread of high-speed wireless networks along with a precipitous drop in the cost of handsets are two of the factors driving this doubling of the net, and creating an opportunity to catalyze social and economic change at an unprecedented scale.
In developing countries, 200 million fewer women than men are online, and 300 million fewer women own a mobile phone (source: No Ceilings: The Full Participation Report, March 2015). Research has demonstrated that mobile phones and tools are important for enhancing the lives of women in low- and middle-income countries. According to the GSMA Connected Women report, at least 58% of women in the 11 developing countries surveyed said they would feel more autonomous and independent if they had access to a mobile phone; and at least 60% of women in 10 out of 11 countries said mobile phone ownership saves (or would save) them money.
Ernst & Young finds that 80% of the microfinance industrys poorest clients are women. Studies by organizations including UN Women, the UN's Children's Defense Fund, and the Women's Entrepreneurship Development Trust Fund have found that women's economic empowerment raises the living standard of the entire household because women are more likely to spend income in productive ways. These studies prove that making financial services available to women produces a positive ripple effect of improved health, education and welfare for all household members and especially children.
The potential for impact of financial inclusion and mobile platforms for the empowerment of women can be truly transformational now through smartphones and the internet. We have now the opportunity to enable them to break free from the cycles of poverty and dependence, sparking economic growth and social change in their communities.
In order to continue replicate and scale the microcosm, Tata Communications is looking for additional partners in the areas of mobile ecosystem, microfinance, e-payment and last-mile reach.
Tata Communications brings its unparalleled expertise in creating and operating internet infrastructure and ecosystems across the globe. Tata Communications carries 24% of the global internet routes and it provides access to 99.7 percent of worlds GDP. Through partnerships with 1400 telecom operators in more than 100 countries, Tata Communications connects to 3 out of 5 mobile users globally.
Most importantly, Tata Communications brings its ability to develop regional partnerships around the world to deliver global scale.