Today's consumers are looking for more than just high-quality products and services when they make a purchase. They're prioritizing corporate social responsibility (CSR), and holding corporations accountable for effecting social change with their business beliefs, practices and profits.
With a vision to become Nigeria’s most loved brand, Airtel’s concept of social responsibility is not limited to a concern with welfare schemes, charity work, or the occasional support for Health, Education, Security/Emergency, Sports, and the Arts. The company is positioned as an integral part of society, which must be socially responsible at all times in all its dealings, maintaining high ethical standards and compliance with the rules and regulations in its methods and practices of doing business.
The activities of Airtel Touching Lives are recorded and produced for national television with a view to promoting the spirit of giving, self-sacrifice and love among Nigerians. Touching Lives is a show about creating a platform for ordinary people in need: Men and Women, Young and Old, rural and urban to have a chance to fulfill their dream.
Speaking at the season 4 Premier, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Airtel Nigeria, Mr. Segun Ogunsanya, said the company is committed to helping the less privileged in the society in line with its vision of creating empowerment opportunities and making life better for Nigerians.
“Together, we all can make our society a better place if we join hands and collaborate to uplift the downtrodden around us. True, we knew we lacked the resources to solve every problem, but we also knew that if we did our best and also encouraged our friends to do their best as well, we can go a long way in making an impact – in touching lives. And that is what we have done in the last three years” he said.
“Airtel is relentless in its pursuit of kindness, extending love to the people and communities it serves. And that is why we have not stopped the Touching Lives initiative three years after we launched it. Some doubted if we could sustain this project when we started but we have been so committed to this cause due its importance to us as a business and management and this has led to the sustenance of the initiative.”
In season 1, Airtel empowered several individuals and communities. However, some stories stood out. For example, Essienkan Ebong, a former police officer lost his eyes to an armed robbery attack in 2013. All efforts to restore his sight proved abortive. Ebong, a graduate of computer science, with a PGD in Mathematics and MSc in Computer Science, didn’t give up hope and neither did Airtel give up on him. Through the Touching Lives programme, we came to his aid, providing him with a Braille Object Identification Scanner, a Braille Machine, Speech Software, an America skim guide and a brand new sophisticate, special laptop to help him actualise his dream despite his disability. Today, Ebong is empowered and he is helping to empower other people in his immediate community.
During the Airtel Touching Lives Season 2, there were several emotional stories of courage and hope. The story of a young girl, Hannah Enakerakpor, who suffered from a life-threatening disease, was a touching story that Airtel intervene in. Through the Touching Lives programme, the company ensured that Hannah lived. Airtel Nigeria bankrolled her surgery in India and thankfully the surgery was very successful. Today she is living a healthy and happy life. Similar beneficiary was Blind Gbenga Adesida, a blind man who lost custody of his children because he was homeless. A new apartment was built for him by Airtel so he could reunite with his family.
One of the unforgettable episodes of the last season was the story of Olusegun Aina family, who recently gave birth to a set of twins (a boy and a girl) after losing three children to an inferno and became homeless through the incidence. Airtel Touching Lives built and donated a multi-million Naira, ultra-modern 2-bedroom apartment for the family and also paid for all outstanding medical bills incurred while undergoing treatment of injuries sustained in the fire.
Other highlights of the last edition also include the donation of laptops, digital voice recorder and other gadgets to Bethesda Home and School; procurement of prosthetic leg for Emmanuel Onyeka and Scholarship for his University education. A 9-year-old cancer patient, Pillar Egona also received N3m for her chemotherapy treatment.
In this continuation of goodness, Airtel Touching Lives has entered its fourth season. The 13-episode programme will air 24 emotion-evoking stories with the aim of making more social impact by empowering, uplifting and creating opportunities for under-privileged people, community and groups in the society.
The season 4 premiere had in attendance top government officials, captains of industry, philanthropists, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Orphanage owners, business moguls and top media practitioners.
Airtel has not just earned its social license in many communities where it operates but is also leading a quiet revolution in the delivery of quality help across the country. It has transformed the lives of thousands of underprivileged.
The success of the project has since earned the company several international and local awards with the most recent being the 2017 Sustainability, Enterprise and Responsibility Awards (SERAS) – (Best Company in Stakeholder Engagement); Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) Award – (CSR Initiative of the Year) and Global Patriot Newspaper award – (Patriot Award for Excellence in CSR).