As originally published in Synergyzer Issue 3 – 2016

Ufone has an active culture of corporate responsibility that promotes volunteerism and contribution to society. Ufone volunteer groups have worked in Pakistan on various environmental, social development, health and education initiatives such as; plantation drives, blood donation drives and facilitating flood affectees.

In Ramadan 2016, the telecom giant came up with a unique CSR initiative through which the brand donated airtime to already existing yet small-scale social ventures working hard for providing basic necessities to the needy. This way, the projects were able to gain much needed exposure, which led to an extraordinary increase in financial help from society at large. The following discussion details the campaign and how it was able to help the initiatives in question to benefit.

THE OBJECTIVE

The objective behind the campaign was to highlight individuals endowing the needy in society through their social ventures. Ufone used its media muscle to promote nationwide recognition of Operation Eid ChildWadaan and Khana Ghar; as a form of non-traditional philanthropy instead of donating money the traditional way.

This visibility strengthens the social and economic impact these ventures have in the communities they operate in. Also, it is altogether possible that inspiring others to follow the examples set by these three ventures will result in the betterment of society on a larger scale.

IT’S ALL ABOUT U

Ufone’s approach to corporate responsibility in the past has been primarily volunteer-centric. However, this year’s Ramadan campaign added a new paradigm in the telecom giant’s approach for it reached out to and enabled independent social ventures like Operation Eid Child, Khana Ghar, and Wadaan to help them achieve their objectives.

According to Mr. Rainer Rathgeber, CEO – Ufone, “Telecom companies are amongst the heaviest advertising spenders in nearly every country in the world. This money is used to talk about ourselves all the time. This Ramadan, Ufone will let those people talk who really make a difference”.

Elaborating further, Mr. Rathgeber explained, “Large-scale publicity can cost a lot of money, and without the publicity, these individuals and organizations really cannot generate enough support to scale up their operations. And so, appreciating these realities, Ufone is coming forward to provide free media space to three such humanitarian initiatives, enabling them to communicate their message far and wide”.

Hence, the company developed campaign content for and donated free media space to Operation Eid Child, Wadaan and Khana Ghar on TV channels, newspapers, billboards and digital media, including Facebook and various blogs; enabling the social ventures to reach out to the masses, encouraging socially-conscious citizens to join such causes.

THE INITIATIVES

1. Operation Eid Child (Islamabad – Lahore – Karachi)

‘Operation Eid Child’ is the brainchild of Sharmine Aziz, a former History and English language teacher at the Headstart School in Islamabad. The idea behind ‘Operation Eid Child’ is simple; pack boxes of gifts for less privileged children and pass them onto the organizers for distribution.

Sharmine has created a website, EidChild.com, with the aim to share happiness with the less fortunate children of our country. Her website prompts visitors to give any old toys or belongings they have lying around the house that can be used by such children.

Setting up drop points in all major cities like Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad through a network of friends and colleagues, Sharmine has devised a nationwide drive aimed at bringing smiles to children across Pakistan through Eid gifts.

2. Wadaan: Dewar-e-Meherbani (Peshawar)

Wadaan, literally meaning ‘prosperous’, was the name of the Wall of Kindness project set up by two students, Omar and Daniyal, in Peshawar. The boys started ‘Wadaan’ as a simple project to donate clothes they were not wearing anymore with the aim to bring a slight amount of prosperity to those in need of basics. For this purpose, they found an unused wall in their locality and nailed in some hooks to hang clothes, thus setting up a place where anyone could come and take what they needed or leave anything they wanted to share.

The idea received a lot of appreciation from the local community and has now expanded into a communal wall of kindness, which now includes things like non-perishable food items, shoes, gifts and other items of necessity stacked on shelves. The items are contributed by the local community for the people who need them. Hence, the key thought behind Wadaan is to help people without affecting their self-esteem.

Facebook page: Facebook.com/wadaanpakistan

3. Khana Ghar (Khuda Ki Basti, Karachi)

Parveen Saeed once read a story in a newspaper of a mother killing her infant children because she couldn’t feed them. The story had such an impact on her life that she started a discount food kitchen from her home at Khuda Ki Basti, a shanty area in the outskirts of Karachi with support from her friends and family, and named it Khana Ghar.

Parveen provides food that costs Rs. 20 to make, in only Rs. 3 to the people that come to her ‘Dhaaba’, feeding a number of individuals and families who live below the poverty line. The idea behind charging for the food, albeit a very small amount, is to discourage waste. She believes that food given completely for free ends up being wasted, whereas when you pay money to buy something you value it more.

Eventually, the project grew and Parveen was approached by TV channels. The exposure brought various donors from all parts of Karachi to her Khana Ghar, helping her expand operations and cater to more people.

Facebook Group: Facebook.com/khanaghar

Contact number: +923009212136

Banking Details for Donations to Khana Ghar
Bank: ABL account in the name of Khana Ghar

Account number: 01-200-4891-8

Branch code: 0160

Swift code: ABPAPKKA

IBAN: PK57ABPA0001600120048918

PROMOTING A CULTURE OF KINDNESS

According to Ufone; Operation Eid Child, Wadaan and Khana Ghar are role models for society and by highlighting the efforts of these social initiatives, the company has shown the masses that it doesn’t take much to promote a culture of kindness, and every member of society has a capacity to start something that can improve the lives of others.

To illustrate, the Ramadan campaign not only enables the social ventures to reach out to the masses to inspire them and get support for those who need it, the campaign also establishes the mindset that these ventures can be easily replicated by anyone desiring to bring about a positive change in society.

In summation, Ufone is inclined to bring about a progressing change throughout Pakistan through supporting committed individuals and organizations working selflessly for the betterment of society as well as its own corporate responsibility initiatives. The brand also hopes that other companies will take the lead and get encouraged to come up with strategies that show ownership of social issues.

MANAGING RESPONSE

A few days after the Ramadan campaign, phone calls started pouring in at Ufone call centers, with people asking how they can donate to the ventures. The call center executives duly explained to callers that contributions can only be made to each of the people responsible for the initiatives and provided their contact details.

MEASURING IMPACT

For the social initiatives, the telecom donating airtime has been a blessing in disguise. According to Sharmine Aziz of Operation Eid Child, “Through this campaign, Ufone picked up three little groups of people trying to make a difference in their own little way, helping them go from social media to mass media overnight”. As a result of the campaign, many people started contacting Sharmine through her personal Facebook profile and the website, EidChild.com, to become a part of the cause.

Moreover, the campaign had a tangible impact on each of the social initiatives in addition to providing exposure. For instance, Khana Ghar had received more than Rs. 0.3 million donations since the start of the campaign, enabling the discount kitchen to provide food rations to upwards of 1400 families in the Khuda ki Basti area. Parveen Saeed of Khana Ghar shared her thoughts on the results of the campaign and her future plans saying, “I have been doing this for 15 years, and have even had interviews conducted by BBC and Voice of America, but nothing gave Khana Ghar the kind of publicity like the Ufone ad campaign. I am very thankful to them for supporting my little project and helping it grow bigger. It is because of Ufone’s help that I will now be able to send food trucks to other areas after Eid with the donations I have received.”

Also, the campaign has served to inspire people to start their own initiatives. Omar and Daniyal of Wadaan shared their experiences post-campaign saying that they have been contacted by people from Multan, Balakot, and Gujranwala with requests to put up more such walls. In addition, donations and a large number of volunteers willing to help out have enabled them to start serving Iftar at those locations. In their words, “Sure, we got more followers on social media after the ad campaign, but that wasn’t the point. The point was to give people the impetus to contribute some time to underprivileged individuals in their respective communities. Hundreds of thousands of people must have seen the ads on social media, TV, billboards and in newspapers. From that count, even if one more person donates their unneeded clothes or feeds the poor because the ads motivated them then we’ve fulfilled our purpose and Ufone its own.”