SPECIAL PROJECTS
 
21st October 2004.
MTN gives back

As MTN Uganda celebrates its 6th anniversary, one thing that has remained almost synonymous with the mobile phone giant is its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). MTN Uganda supports initiatives such as education, through which they have assisted schools in different ways since 1999.

MTN also works in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, to provide low-cost housing to the people of Uganda. The company also supports Nakivubo Youth Club, a group of former street children whose lives are rehabilitated through sports. MTN’s CSR is aimed at giving back to the communities in which the company staff live and work. MTN Assistant Public Relations Officer Tina Byaruhanga gave Weekly Observer’s Elizabeth Kameo an insight into the company’s unique CSR programme:

Ms Tina Byaruhanga

Do you believe integrating Corporate Social Responsibility in MTN’s core operations helps MTN move ahead of the competition?

Yes, of course. I do believe the CSR of MTN is not different from the business; they are one and the same. It makes it more dynamic and has more impact when you actually integrate the two. So yes, I do believe in merging the CSR and the business objectives; they have to tie into each other, and that is what MTN has done, and is doing.

Do you think people are becoming more demanding of the contribution MTN Uganda makes towards their community development initiatives?

Naturally people are demanding. Despite that, MTN is still willing to stick to our plan and implement our strategy, whether people will be more demanding or less demanding. MTN has drawn out a plan of engaging the communities and being able to meet them at their point of need, and that is what we are going to stick to.

How is MTN moving from the traditional models of community support such as charitable donations, grants and employee volunteer programmes, to make CSR part of everyday business?

First and foremost, what we are doing is encouraging people to embrace an education that involves computer knowledge and exposure to ICT because we believe it is very vital in this global age. You can’t do business anywhere; most of the time you need at least basic computer knowledge. For example, there is a project we are involved in right now with higher institutions of learning, where we are giving them computers in order for their students to be able to get Internet access so that they can explore and expand their scope of education.

Would you say MTN’s CSR has been an important gauge of the company’s success?

Yes. It is very vital for companies to care for the communities in which they operate and cold and callous for a company to operate in a community without taking into account their needs and their plight. Companies succeed because communities help them. Giving back to the community shows that we appreciate the support they have given us.

ekameo@ugandaobserver.com