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Incubating a new era of social good at Vodafone

Amit Chakrabarti

Amit Chakrabarti

Head of Vodafone Business Ventures

Technology has the power to accomplish incredible social good.

From domestic abuse support with TecSOS and the Bright Sky app, Text to Treatment to enable obstetric fistula surgery in Tanzania and pop-up connectivity in cyclone emergency zones; we’re proud to have changed lives for the better through The Vodafone Foundation.

While we fully intend to continue this work, a changing global landscape and our 27 years of experience tells us that traditional corporate philanthropy can only go so far. This applies to businesses as well as not-for-profits, with 93% of decision makers in the recent Global Trends Barometer agreeing that customers now expect them to act ethically, or risk losing loyalty.

In this uncertain climate, many organisations recognise that there is much more the business community can do.

The big issues of our time

There is no doubt that the world today faces significant, long-term challenges. Take healthcare and education as an example; if the former is an ethical prerequisite, then the latter is an essential catalyst for life transformation, and both will see huge benefits from an increase in access to technology.

Yet at least half of the world’s population still lacks access to essential healthcare services and care will become more complex in the years ahead. By 2060, approximately 30% of the European population will be aged 65 or older, resulting in an 80% increase in long-term care spending.

Similarly, there are significant inequalities with education access; with over 265 million children who do not have access to schooling and 617 million young people who lack basic mathematics and literacy skills. This disparity in opportunity and skills represents serious issues for the society we wish to create.

Going further than traditional corporate good

Businesses have a vital role to play in tackling issues of this scale. While corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives have accomplished great things in the past, it has become clear that this model is limited in its potential for tackling these large-scale issues.

Traditionally, such initiatives have been funded by donations from the business, which makes it very difficult to scale up due to capital constraints. CSR programmes can have a wide and varied focus, taking on many individual challenges at a small scale, but this comes with implications on any ability to innovate or offer a solution for the long term.

To drive lifetime lasting results, many businesses are considering a more sustainable model and taking inspiration from new sources. For us, this means a new team and way of working to drive sustainable, life changing impact: Vodafone Business Ventures.

Incubating a new era of social good at Vodafone

Introducing Vodafone Business Ventures

We will combine our expertise in connectivity, the cloud and the Internet of Things (IoT) with our commercial knowledge to create sustainable solutions that address critical global problems.

We have begun by identifying the most pressing issues, including those mentioned above, where our platforms, infrastructure and partner ecosystem are best positioned to make an impact. In addition to continuing to support local philanthropic programs through the Vodafone Foundation, Vodafone Business Ventures will differentiate itself by incubating new propositions that are commercially sustainable and scalable.

Any profits made from our initiatives will be fully reinvested into our Ventures and Foundation programs to fund further innovation and long-term results. Vodafone Business Ventures will empower people and communities with propositions that can improve lives for the future.

Starting with education and care

Vodafone Business Ventures will focus on its efforts on some of the most critical global challenges, starting with education and social care. Our Connected Education scheme will deliver a suite of services especially designed for schools that will help accelerate digital adoption using existing technology.

This will help to deliver vital skills to students and teachers, improve academic performance and position young people to capitalise on the opportunities of tomorrow. Connected Education will be delivered as an affordable managed service, with ongoing support from Vodafone and a broad network of global partners to power their journey.

From a care perspective the ageing population, especially in Europe, is creating growing demand for services that can help people to live independently for longer. Our Connected Living service will use Vodafone’s smart home technology, mobile apps and Internet of Things platform to link carers and people with assisted needs. 

This connected technology will provide a higher level of visibility for carers, enabling them to enhance the quality of care for independent and assisted living residents with existing resources, delivering a more fulfilling, empowering experience.

A long-term commitment

The social issues facing the world today are complex, and businesses have a critical role to play in creating sustainable solutions that make a lasting difference. We are incredibly proud of everything accomplished by Vodafone Foundation and our work will continue.

With Vodafone Business Ventures, our ambition to increase our impact by an order of magnitude, with projects that can be scaled up to reach a broader audience. We will be able to plan and innovate for the long term, to continuously refine our approach and deliver the best outcomes possible with increased financial flexibility..

There are many challenges facing us in the years ahead. Vodafone Business Ventures will build on and expand on our company’s ethos of working for social good, to help to create a bright future for everyone.

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