Firm restates commitment to promoting social entrepreneurship
By Nsikan Ikpe
Digital lifestyle telecom company, Tigo Tanzania, in partnership with the non-profit organization, Reach for Change, has given an award of USD 20,000 each to two winners of the 5th edition of the Tigo Digital Changemakers Competition.
A statement from the company outlines that the competition aims at identifying and supporting social entrepreneurs who use digital tools and technology to improve communities and impact future generations. In addition to a substantial financial grant, winners are provided with access to Tigo and Reach for Change Incubator Program, which provides them with advice, expertise and access to global networks, enabling them to build financially sustainable social enterprises that create lasting, large scale change to the community.
This year’s winners of the coveted award are Sophia Mbega and Nancy Sumari. Sophia Mbega impressed the judges with a grand digital initiative that is geared towards helping self-help women groups popularly known as VICOBA (Village Community Banks). She has come up with a mobile app that creates a collaborative platform that uses existing tools for financial and task management in a way that is adaptable to the African context. Through the app, all users, regardless of where they are, can transfer money from their mobile wallet to their Vicoba group account (directly from the app by using an USSD code), view all of their financial records, profit generated, weekly reports, etc.
Nancy Sumari’s award-winning initiative dubbed JENGA HUB focuses on foundation knowledge for children. Through her hub and co-creation space for kids, she teaches computer programming, robotics and coding skills to primary school children. The hub also exposes children to learning basic Information and Communication Technology such as programming skills that can in turn be used for creation of a range of educational and entertainment content.
Speaking at the press conference in Dar es Salaam, Tigo Tanzania Managing Director Diego Gutierrez said: “It is with great pleasure that we announce the winners of this year’s Tigo Digital Changemakers Competition. For five years now, our Changemakers have touched the lives of over 250,000 children in Tanzania. We believe that with the addition of these two Changemakers, we will impact on the lives of more children and help to make Tanzania a better place for our future generations.”
Gutierrez further elaborated that as a digital lifestyle brand, Tigo encourages technology-driven ideas and projects that bring sustainable change. “Digital technology is not only changing the way we do business in Africa but also revolutionizing the way we perceive and solve social development challenges. It is therefore with great honor that we will once again create an opportunity for such ideas to be recognized, supported and transformed to maximize social and economic impact,” he said.
This is the fifth year that Tigo and Reach for Change are unveiling the winners of the competition. The final winners were selected from a group of hundreds of passionate ‘social entrepreneurs’ who use digital tools and technology to implement solutions to problems facing Tanzanian communities.
Gutierrez praised the work of the past winners while encouraging others to share their ideas: “Our portfolio of social entrepreneurs is very impressive. To date, we have supported a total of 8 Digital Changemakers in Tanzania and we look forward to supporting more social entrepreneurs every year to propel this movement forward.”
The Changemakers in the program include Faraja Nyalandu, who runs a digital social enterprise called Shule Direct. Shule Direct provides digital educational content to help address teacher shortages and ensure that every child and youth has access to quality education. Faraja’s organization also offers a mobile app called Makini SMS that helps children study with access to unlimited multiple choice questions for 9 subjects. She is currently planning to scale her organization in other East African countries.
Carolyne Ekyarisiima, a YALI alumna, is a Tigo Digital Changemaker who is working to bridge the gender gap in ICT technology through her social enterprise, Apps & Girls. Carolyne has impacted hundreds of girls, through coding clubs in schools. She has also reached hundreds of girls through hackathons, bootcamps and competitions. Not only does this help to ensure that more girls have access to digital technologies, Carolyne is also empowering them to become ICT leaders of the future. Carolyne is currently scaling her social enterprise to maximize her impact and provide many more girls with tech education, helping them to develop solutions for social issues through their own digital applications and websites!
Joan Avit, a YALI alumna, is improving the quality of early childhood education through digital innovation. As a Digital Changemaker through her project known as GraphoGame Tanzania, she provides child-friendly, game-based learning that helps children learn to read using phonics. Her innovation has been life changing for hundreds of young students who previously struggled in school and are now thriving as a result of her digital innovation.
“We are very supportive of the work of all our Changemakers and this is why, this year, we have once again identified and supported two more brave and innovative social entrepreneurs,” Gutierrez noted.
Speaking at the award ceremony, Reach for Change Tanzania Program Manager, Josephine Msambichaka hailed the NGO’s partnership with Tigo, noting that it had provided perfect opportunities for the implementation of sustainable business models that benefit communities, especially scores of children, from across the country.