Leading telecommunications services provider, Airtel Nigeria, has announced a partnership with Girl Effect, an international non-profit organization and iSON group, the largest Information Technology Group in Africa, to empower rural and vulnerable girls in matters relating to finance, entrepreneurship, health, economic empowerment and safety, among others.
With the partnership, Girl Effect and iSON Group will leverage on their highly successful Girls Connect initiative to give rural girls a voice. Girls Connect is an innovative IVR (interactive voice response) service that enables girls to listen to pre-recorded stories on their mobile phones before connecting to a specially-trained role model to answer their questions.
Girl Effect and iSON Group ran a successful pilot of Girls Connect across five locations in Kano last year. 44,000 calls were made to the service during the eight week campaign, 5 times more than originally expected. Since July this year, the programme has been live state-wide across Kano and Edo, in both Hausa and Pidgin.
Commenting on the Girls Connect initiative, Emeka Oparah, Director: Corporate Communications & CSR, Airtel Nigeria, said: “Airtel is proud to be associated with Girl Effect and iSON on this exciting journey to empower and liberate girls across the country.
“At Airtel, we are intensely interested in connecting our esteemed stakeholders to the people, information, resources and opportunities that will enable them succeed and realize their full potentials. With the Girls Connect initiative, it our hope that more girls will be inspired, empowered and encouraged to do more, achieve more and change the world.”
Hadeezah Haruna-Usie, Deputy Country Director at Girl Effect Nigeria, said:“Girls Connect is an innovative campaign that is empowering girls. In the pilot phase, we started to see girls put into practice what they learnt from the stories and conversations they had with the role models – from opening bank accounts, to enrolling in apprenticeships that will lead them to start their own business. Thanks to our partners, we are now able to expand this service to reach even more girls and help eliminate the barriers that prevent girls from accessing Girls Connect.”
Ramesh Awtaney, Founder and Chairman, iSON Group said:“Human beings live on hope. Through Girls Connect IVR service, girls in Nigeria have access to a key platform free of cost where their quest is answered and their faith reinstated to live lives powerfully. The program shaped up by iSON Group and Girl Effect is a collaborative effort of how technology and content can be the interface to connect and share to fortify the bond of human race.”
To access the platform, girls dial a number and listen to pre-recorded stories containing inspiring, entertaining and educational lessons about growing up. These stories – about Nigerian girls learning how to speak up, finding their own path in life, and learning to nurture meaningful relationships – cover multifaceted issues including health, education, economic empowerment and safety. Girls are then connected to a ‘role model’; a specially-trained iSON call centre operative who answers girls’ questions and talks through the stories they have heard to make them meaningful to their own lives.
Keeping the cost of using the service to a minimum is critical to make the service accessible to vulnerable girls. Today, new partners have come on board to help the programme scale and reach more girls.