Cameroon: Telco or Non-Telco, Explore the Power of CSR

    Many established companies, startups, and small businesses have often failed and ran out of business for the simple reason that they failed to give back to the communities in which they operate because business is designed to be mutually beneficial. Companies that give back to their commuties simply fulfill their corporate social responsibility policies and promises.

    To tap into the community’s ever flowing commitment to any brand or business, the company must be willing to perform philanthropic or charitable activities.

    Companies stand to gain a lot from getting involved in Corporate Social Responsibility(CSR) activities; the ability to create long-lasting positive impact in a community, enhancement of client relationships and of course, building trust. This sounds like what CSR appear to be which is exactly what Cameroon’s mobile telecommunications giant MTN Cameroon has been doing for the past 11 years.

    Recently, the corporate Telco launched a mass recruitment of brand ambassadors under the MTN brand ambassador program, with the aim of employing 15,000 Cameroonian graduates across the national triangle. This is a CSR activity that has taken 15,000 unemployed youths off the streets, thereby reducing the country’s unemployment rate.

    In the near future, with more youths taking up employment positions at MTN, Cameroon might be able to bring unemployment to its bare minimum. The company has also taken interest in sponsoring football events in the country like the ongoing Cameroon Football League that will soon enter its second phase.

    The multinational mobile telecommunications company on June 1, launched its charitable program-21 Days of Y’ello Care which is a 21-day program that engages its employees to voluntarily carryout philanthropic and social actions for the welfare of communities in the 22 footprints of the MTN Group worldwide.

    Each year, employees of the MTN Group in the 22 countries in which it operates compete to win a trophy. In 2012, 2013 and 2015, MTN Cameroon successfully won the programme by constructing a Government Primary School in Waffango, North Region; refurbished Government Primary School Bepanda library and equipped it with 2100 books; devoted their campaign to the education of disabled children by erecting 8 classrooms and dormitories in 2012, 2013, 2014 respectively. Meanwhile, MTN Cameroon employees are committing themselves to the education of the underprivileged in 2017.

    Being the only telecom company to have contributed (through sponsorship) to the largest technology conference in Cameroon- Silicon Mountain Conference (SMConf) in 2016, the mobile telecoms giant has aligned itself with the most powerful and industrious minds of the Silicon Mountain tech ecosystem, giving the company the opportunity to experience and network with the thriving African community of creative techies.

    The SMConf is the leading conference of the Cameroon ‘techosphere’ which attracts developers and entrepreneurs from across Africa for a day of talks on entrepreneurship and software development for providing solutions to everyday problems. The company over the years has organized app innovation challenges dubbed MTN App Development Challenge for young developers across the national territory.

    Other companies in Cameroon have over the years understood the power of CSR to their businesses. Another Cameroon telecommunications company, Orange Cameroun has not been left out of the show.

    Orange Cameroon through its philanthropic programme, Orange Foundation has been keen to the role corporate social responsibility ties in with organizational goals by creating digital centers for women with the aim of promoting and supporting underprivileged women.

    Guinness Cameroon, a beverage company has since 1995 tapped into the power of CSR in its numerous sponsorship of the Fako mountain race tournaments under the name, Guinness Mount Cameroon Race of Hope.

    According to a research on Corporate Social Responsibility activities in Cameroon, Ten companies ranked high as having the best CSR policies which include: MTN, Orange, SABC, Camrail, ENEO, Hysacam, Cimencam, Sodecoton, CAMTEL and Guinness Cameroun. However, without a good customer service, these companies are doomed to fail in their responsibility of performing social actions to their communities.

    Corporate social responsibility offers telecoms operators lots of opportunities and if only they could take advantage of these opportunities by showing support for their communities, these companies could be sure of making enormous gains from its varied clients.

    One of such opportunities is supporting Silicon Mountain startups and freelance developers. Here’s how a telecom company can support and benefit from Silicon Mountain’s ever growing brand strength and openings:

    1. Invest in Silicon Mountain startups. The advantages of a business being a shareholder in another company cannot be overemphasized. Just by having your brand name on the documents of a startup is an indirect publicity strategy.
    2. Sponsoring Silicon Mountain Conferences. Given the number of developers and organizers who attend the annual Silicon Mountain conferences, it is a sure opportunity to present your brand to both the local and foreign audience who find their way to such conferences.
    3. Supporting local tech incubators like ActivSpaces with financial aid so that they may be able to grow startups that are trying to pick up.

    Besides Silicon Mountain, another good place telcos can dive into is education just as MTN and Orange Cameroon have already invested a lot in that domain as well as organizing award winning competitions which successful business and tech startups benefit from incubation programs and grants.

    Telecoms and non-telecoms companies alike should view corporate social responsibility not as a means of wasting business resources on Silicon Mountain, ActivSpaces, football, education, but rather as a way to sell themselves and benefit from the opportunities society has to offer.

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