CAIRO: Vodafone Egypt Foundation unveiled its new project “A World of Difference at a press conference on Tuesday in Cairo. The project, aimed at encouraging volunteerism in Egypt, will sponsor five volunteers who will work with five NGOs for one year.
“Many people want to serve but they can’t leave their job and they don’t have another source of income. The sum [for the project] is not a big amount but it helps people get an opportunity to go and volunteer, said Mohamed Al Hamamsy, the Chairman of the Vodafone Egypt Foundation.
The volunteers will receive a stipend of LE 3,000-4,000 per month to cover their living expenses. If the project is successful the foundation plans to expand it.
The organizations that will benefit from the initiative this year are the Right to Live Association, HEPCA, Nahdet El Mahrousa, CARE and Al Mowasah. The organizations cover the issues of support for the disabled, environment protection, youth empowerment, community development, and disaster and poverty alleviation respectively.
During the Q&A session of the press conference, Vodafone’s allocation of resources to these nonprofit fields was questioned.
“We have invested over LE 100 million and we have touched the life of over 3 million Egyptians. We have a strategy and we have clear objectives and goals. We have chosen to work on education development, health and community development and our choices were based on the United Nations development report which is published on a yearly basis, responded Noha Saad, Corporate Responsibility and Foundation Manager.
“A World of Difference was started a few years ago by Vodafone Group. To date, it has given the financial opportunity to 700 volunteers in 14 countries.. In Egypt, it is one of a number of projects which Vodafone Egypt Foundation is working on this year. According to Hamamsy, the foundation will also be sponsoring development of rural villages, playgrounds for children and equipment for schools across Egypt.
With a strong budget, the foundation will be expanding its reach and network of nonprofit partners.
“The crisis did not affect the foundation, said Hamamsy. “Our budget is based on two things. It is based on a certain percentage of the revenue of Vodafone Egypt and on funds we receive from the central Vodafone Foundation in London. The foundation receives 0.02 percent of Vodafone Egypt’s EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization) and has had on average an annual budget of LE 15-16 million.
According to numbers published by Vodafone Group, the services revenue in Egypt increased by 11.9 percent in 2009 financial year. Expanding customer base and rising usage per customer have pushed Vodafone’s profits. Revenue growth, however, has suffered following the introduction of new tariffs for rates per minute and lower termination rates.
Data from the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) puts the company’s subscribers at a little over 23 million. Vodafone is the second biggest mobile operator after Mobinil with a market share of 42.1 percent. The two operators have entered heated competition over the ever-expanding Egyptian market, as the mobile penetration is going beyond 70 percent. A recent decision by NTRA to give mobile promotional offers freedom is likely to intensify competition, bringing the prices down even further.