Vodafone Case Study

The Vodafone Turkey Women First programme helps women use mobile technology, access information, acquire new skills and increase their incomes.

In 2013-14, Vodafone Turkey launched the Vodafone Women First programme which helps women use mobile technology, access information, acquire new skills and increase their incomes. Launched in 2013, it attracted 75,000 women customers in its first nine months, of which 15% were new customers for Vodafone.

Muazzes Özer had a problem. The handicrafts trader from Turkey’s coastal city of Mersin spent so much time travelling to sell her wares that she had little left for building inventory and scaling the business. All that changed when she got a mobile phone and gained access to a virtual marketplace. Özer now employs 100 women and has seen her earnings rise by 500%.1

Özer credits her change in fortunes to Vodafone Turkey’s Women First programme, part of a growth strategy spearheaded by regional CEO Serpil Timuray. When she took the reins in 2009, Timuray found business on a downward slide.2 Realising the company was out of touch with Turkish consumers, the new boss quickly reoriented. Reaching out to women was part of the strategy.

Globally, 200 million fewer women than men own a mobile phone,3 a significant proportion of which live in markets where Vodafone already operates.4 The numbers point to a huge opportunity, not just for business but development too. Mobile phones empower women by saving time and money, and boosting connectivity, safety and autonomy. They also contribute to an industry that directly and indirectly 3.6% to global GDP added in 2013.5

Vodafone Turkey’s programme seeks to harness this potential by incentivising women to buy mobile plans and then leveraging the network for education and work opportunities. Under its advertisement service, women without much tech know-how can access one of Turkey’s biggest e-marketplaces, sahibinden.com.6 Vendors send information about their products via SMS to a third party, funded by Vodafone, which then verifies the information and posts an advert on their behalf. Users can also access special offers, plus information on child health and other topics.

The service, which launched in 2013, generated 4,700 adverts in its first nine months, triggering average sales of US$51 per user.7 Vodafone meanwhile attracted 75,000 women customers, 15% of them new to the operator.8 As of September 2016, the program has reached nearly 670,000 women.9 The potential is huge. Vodafone’s 2014 Connected Women report estimates that growth in female subscribers could generate economic benefits worth US$22.3 billion a year to 153.8 154 million female service users and wider society by 2020.10 Acquiring these users would translate to annual commercial opportunity of US$3.9 billion in 2020.11 Meanwhile, like Muazzes Özer, Vodafone Turkey’s fortunes have turned around: by March 2016, it had 22.4 million customers and Turkey’s fastest growing mobile revenues.12

References

1 Vodafone Foundation. (2014) “Connected Women How mobile can support women’s economic and social empowerment”. Vodafone, March. https://www.vodafone.com/content/dam/vodafone-images/foundation/thought-leadership/VF_WomensReport_V12%20Final.pdf.

2 The Telegraph. (2010) “Vodafone makes a connection in Turkey”. 31 October. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/mediatechnologyandtelecoms/8100480/Vodafone-makes-a-connection-in-Turkey.html.

3 GSMA. (2015) “Bridging the gender gap: Mobile access and usage in low- and middle-income countries”. Connected Women. http://www.gsma.com/mobilefordevelopment/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/GSM0001_03232015_GSMAReport_NEWGRAYS-Web.pdf.

4 Vodafone. “Sustainability Report 2014: Transformational Solutions - Women”. https://www.vodafone.com/content/sustainabilityreport/2014/index/transformationalsolutions/women.html.
“We estimate that 91 million (in 2014) of these women without a mobile phone live in markets where we operate, which represents a substantial unfulfilled market and a significant opportunity for our business.”

GSMA. (2015) “Bridging the gender gap: Mobile access and usage in low- and middle-income countries”. Connected Women. http://www.gsma.com/mobilefordevelopment/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/GSM0001_03232015_GSMAReport_NEWGRAYS-Web.pdf.

6 Vodafone. “Sustainability Report 2014: Transformational Solutions - Women”. https://www.vodafone.com/content/sustainabilityreport/2014/index/transformationalsolutions/women.html.

7 Ibid.

8 Ibid.

9 From internal company numbers.

10 Vodafone Foundation. (2014) “Connected Women How mobile can support women’s economic and social empowerment”. Vodafone, March. https://www.vodafone.com/content/dam/vodafone-images/foundation/thought-leadership/VF_WomensReport_V12%20Final.pdf.

11 See http://change-corp.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/mWomen_Final-Report-vFINAL.pdf.

12 From internal company numbers.