MTN Nigeria, the largest network by market share, recently disclosed it paid more than N2 trillion in taxes to the Nigerian government in the last 20 years.
The organisation explained that the amount includes taxes, levies and fees paid to the Nigerian economy, adding that it “created 2.5 million jobs and contributed N2.3 trillion in taxes”.
In his comment, Karl Toriola, chief executive officer, MTN Nigeria, said the 20 year journey has not been the company’s alone, adding that “Ours has been a classic case of ‘together in progress,’ and we are thankful to all Nigerians for standing by us and helping us get to this milestone.
TechEconomy.ng understands that one of the vehicles through which MTN Nigeria has impacted the economy is the MTN Foundation (MTNF) incorporated in 2004 to drive the telecommunications giant’s various Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives commissioned in May 2005 and funded by up to 1% of its Profit After Tax (PAT).
So far, about N23.3 billion has been committed to MTNF projects to date, over 914 MTNF project sites in 36 States including the FCT.
Interestingly, about 2,516 communities have benefitted from MTNF’s projects with 30.2 million people reached through MTN’s intervention from inception till date.
MTNF built boreholes, school facilities, donated electricity transformers and other amenities to communities that have been successful in the nomination processes. It just shows you the depth at which MTN Foundation can go to reach even those areas that don’t have those facilities and amenities.
Let’s go to health care now. MTN Foundation loves health care, and they will go on out on a limb to satisfy that. The thing is, during the pandemic, they have been involved in the donation and investment in services, donation of items to aged people. Tell us about it. Why so, why do you like public health care?
These feats and more resonated during a recent event in celebration of MTN Nigeria @20 where 20 customers received brand new SUVs!
Odunayo Sanya, executive secretary, MTN Foundation, joined a panel session where she spoke extensively about the impacts MTNF is creating across Nigeria leveraging the ‘1% profit after tax’ MTN Nigeria sets aside for its CSR projects.
Sanya speaks: Thank you very much. At MTN Foundation we are driven by our core belief; that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life. Now this connected life starts from your SIM and it goes beyond that. It goes to your health, your education, and that is why MTN Nigeria, unlike many other big multinational, sets aside a dedicated commitment of up to 1% profit after tax to perform the activities of the foundation.
“Now, talking about healthcare that is driven by our core belief; it is important for everyone to be healthy in the communities that we serve.
“In MTN, we believe that our success is very much linked with the wellbeing of our host communities. And so that is why you see that we consistently, fully align with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations, and partnering with the Nigerian government in priority areas like health.
“We move into our communities and try to elevate the quality of lives there, and that is what is driving us. In the few years of the Foundation, like Karl the CEO, said earlier, MTN has invested about circa N25 billion in corporate social investments, and, for us, it’s a joy to be able to give back.
“We are very environmentally and socially aware of our responsibility, you know, to our community. And that is why to us at MTN, health is very important. To express this, we continue to partner with the government of Nigeria at Federal level, State level, and also the Local Government level, the NCDC and Primary Healthcare agencies, the local primary healthcare. And so our belief is that we can intervene across the different layers of the health value chain. We’re able to contribute immensely and give Nigeria, you know, an elevated quality of life”.
That’s beautiful. Now let us go to another one of the Foundation’s core values: Youth empowerment.
A sizable percentage of youths are unemployed in the country, and, of course, the MTNF is very innovative in knowing how to take care of its core values.
Frank Edoho, the compère asked Sanya about the opportunities available to engage this demographic of unemployed young ones; after all it is said that the youths are the leaders of the future. So what are the opportunities there?
Sanya’s response was interesting.
She said: “Nigeria is a very young country. About 65% of our population are youths, and so for us at MTNF it is important to harness, you know, the energy that this segment of our demographic brings to nation development. At the foundation, we have certain flagship programs, I’ll just speak to a few of them, that we believe will contribute to creating better individuals that are able to do great things in Nigeria.
The first one is the STEM scholarship. As you know, it’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. So, every year, amazingly to show the dedication of MTN, we did not roll back even during the pandemic; last year when the pandemic was at its height. So, every year we launch the call for application whereby we grant about 400 young Nigerian students the opportunity to earn a scholarship to take them through school.
“It’s something that pushes forward excellence, and that’s why you have to have a CGPA of about 3.5 to go through. The unique thing about the MTN scholarship is that we stay with you, just like MTN has been here in Nigeria, 20 years enabling lives, another 20 years and another 20 years. So, we get on with you, when you are in your third year, and every year until your final year, which is about your fifth year, as long as you perform, and you meet the CGPA of 3.5, you would have this support from MTN through school. And we have a budding community of alumni that, you know, are doing great things. That’s one.
MTNF assists the visually impaired:
“MTN, as far as I know, also, is the only organization that focuses on blind people. You know, we’re quick to forget these people; they are our brothers and sisters, but MTN doesn’t. And so we also have a scholarship scheme that takes a blind person through school because we believe that there is strength even in disability.
“And so we’ve been able to take around 4500 Nigerians through our scholarships. Of course, the individual scholarships are about a little over 11,000. But because you know, it’s with the same person over three years. So we have a record of about 4000, there about. And even in this year, the call of applications just closed, and we had about 70,000 young Nigerians, you know, apply. And the goal is to scale the numbers, eventually, so that we can have more people in the safety net.
“Also, we are a technology company, we believe so much in the power of technology, as has been attested to by everyone here today. And we believe that it’s important to train young Nigerians in technology and equip them with digital skills, so that you know, they can, they can also contribute, they can either start their own thing, and we have testimonials of people starting businesses and being able to employ other Nigerians.
“So, every year, we also run the digital skills training program, in partnership with ecosystem partners like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and we use their curriculum to, you know, train young Nigerians. And, I must say, this has been, you know, awesome. Last year, we pivoted online because of the pandemic, and this year, again, we’re planning to do that.
“There’s so much more we’re doing; in partnership with the Bank of Industry; MTNF, launched the youth entrepreneurship development program. And it’s a program where the young people that have gone through, we’re also creating an interlock strategy, where one intervention leads to another, where the young people that have gone through the scholarships scheme have the opportunity to pitch for funding made available by MTN, funding up to about 2 million in partnership with the Bank of Industry.
But, like I said, we’re not resting on our oars. A lot has been given to us by Nigeria and Nigerians, and our charge is that we have to scale the numbers; we have to scale sustainability, and change the narrative going forward.
So, in the course of the session, the Executive Secretary of MTNF mentioned that they’ll be funding young entrepreneurs. So, what kind of businesses will they be funding? And what kind of funding will they be getting; is it going to be a grant or an equity funding and all of that?
She provided answers to these questions, thus:
“Okay, so, we focus majorly on manufacturing or processing business where your raw materials are in country, you source locally, for obvious reasons, to enhance the economy. Now what we do is the young people have up to N2 million to access as equipment loan or process loan, that’s what we call it.
“The Bank of Industry will check your proposal, do an estimate and determine how much you really need, but you can access up to N2 million.
“Now of the N2 million; 20% of it, that’s N200,000 is a grant. There’s the reason there are loans, and it’s all because, so that we can be, you know, accountable in using the funds that we get. 20% grant and you pay back the rest at 5% flat.
“Just 5% per annum and you have a repayment moratorium of about six months. So last year was the first that we did it. You have quite a number of people who have to change business plans because of COVID, the pandemic, but we’ve been able to disburse to a number of young people and we also train so it’s not just about giving the funding. What happens is that there’s a four-week training that leads up to the pitching and then the release of the funds.
What are the sustainability plans?
“Thank you very much for that question. For us, sustainability is part of our framework, in terms of all that we do. So when you talk about sustaining us the next 20 years, we are pivoted to focus around building community adaptation and resilience, and what do I mean by that, it’s to talk about bringing the SDGs into light of daily living within the communities that we intervene, that we roll our projects in.
“And so part of the things we’ve started doing, and will continue to reinforce, is to train in the communities that we go into. So we’re going to be training about how personal choices help individuals to adapt and to be resilient in terms of all that is happening within, you know, the environmental ecosystem, helping them, teaching them, and exposing them to how they can make better choices that preserve the environment.
“Now, another thing we’ll continue to do is we will now really focus on the female folks; that is part of where we are headed to. We believe that, based on research and our core beliefs in MTN, it’s important to target the women because they are nation builders; they end up you know, making the core decisions in the home.
“So part of it is to also see how we can empower female entrepreneurs going forward, a lot will be done in partnership with the likes of the Bank of Industry. We’re also going to continue to scale our STEM program, the scholarship, really focusing on the youth of Nigeria. It’s going to be interesting in the next five years, even for MTN as a company, as we open up our ecosystem of technology, for young Nigerians to be able to create innovative solutions that solve social problems.
“And this is what the Foundation will be pushing using our technology platform to encourage young Nigerians to come up with innovations that, you know, solve social problems and scale. So, those are some of the things, and of course for sustainability on the life principles, on the principles of monetary evaluation.
“It is very key for us to see that it is not just about throwing money at a problem, but to stay with what we’re doing and monitor and evaluate and continue to improve in that process. Thank you very much”.
Well, from the foregoing, MTN Nigeria through its vehicle – MTNF – has done amazing job and we give them accolades for job well done.
Let the innovation continue.