Mobile operator unveils franchise service aimed at Myanmar women

Qatar-owned operator Ooredoo, which owns one of two foreign telco licenses in Myanmar, hopes to bring 30,000 women into the local economy with a franchisee model to sell prepaid airtime.

Qatar's state-owned carrier Ooredoo has unveiled a new franchise program to encourage women in Myanmar to contribute to the local economy.  

The mobile service franchise initiative hopes to recruit 30,000 Myanmar women by 2016.

Together with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, the operator highlighted "an urgent need" for more women to participate in the nation's economic development where 25 percent of the population currently live below the poverty line. In a statement released Thursday, Ooredoo said: "Women should have equal opportunities to access mobile technology today in order to be able to best advance their lives and those who depend on them."

The operator, which  owns one of two foreign telco licenses in Myanmar  awarded in June this year, will work with the Cherie Blair Foundation to develop a franchisee model to help women in the country be entrepreneurs by selling Ooredoo airtime to their local communities. Targeted to recruit 30,000 by 2016, the scheme will equip each woman with a business kit comprising a mobile phone, promotional content, as well as an operating manual, and also includes hands-on training to guide them on how to run the business.  

The program is part of the Clinton Global Initiative and was announced at the organization's annual meeting in New York this week. London-based Cherie Blair Foundation is a charity established in 2008 with the aim to help women worldwide cover challenges they face in their society. The foundation, through its own research, found that women entrepreneurs were able to add significant value to the operations of mobile services providers by becoming channel agents, selling related products such as SIM cards and mobile airtime. These franchisee model for mobile services typically also require less startup capital to launch. 

Less than 10 percent of Myanmar's population have a mobile phone, presenting an opportunity for Ooredoo to the tap the country's total population 60 million.

Ooredoo Chairman H.E. Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al Thani said in the statement: "As we begin operating in Myanmar, we're looking to create tens of thousands of new jobs in the retail sector, with a particular focus on engaging women micro-entrepreneurs."

Through its partnership with the Cherie Blair Foundation, the operator also offers a similar program in Indonesia via its local representative Indosat.