A Franchise Selling Mobile Phone Minutes To The Poor
Grameen Foundation with its ground-breaking AppsLabs team developed a mobile phone- based business idea to reduce the level of poverty in Indonesia. The result was PT Ruma, a micro-franchise business that empowers poor women to start their own digital technology business. PT Ruma provides them with a mobile phone, training and regular mentoring as their business expands. Their core business is the reselling of mobile phone minutes at discounted prices and in small quantities – a product well suited to the small budgets of the poor customers in their neighborhoods.
Here’s how the airtime business works: PT Ruma purchases minutes in big quantities from large telecoms and stores them in their server. When an entrepreneur sells air time, the minutes are sent to her client from the main office by SMS. Her total profit is then payed to her at the end of every day.
PT Ruma’s New Product: Selling Job Search App To The Poor
GF’s AppLabs have also been working on developing specialized information apps which PT Ruma’s entrepreneurs can sell, each app adding to their overall income. The first App on the market is a Jobs Search App. If a customer subscribes to this app, he or she will receive notices on their phone from employers wanting to hire new staff. When the customer finds a job, he or she stops subscribing to the app. Each new app charges a user fee and adds to the micro franchisee’s revenue.
Franchisees are remunerated solely on profit: the more minutes they sell, the more subscribers to their app – the more revenue they make. On average, after 4 months, franchisees increase their daily income by 40%.
At just 23, with a three year old child, Santi dreaded spending all her waking hours, just like her mother, working in a small grocery shop barely surviving. But with no skills and no job, she was heading for that same hopeless future. One day, she was approached by a Ruma field officer with an opportunity in the information technology business including training and mentoring as the business grows. It was that 21st century job traditionally reserved for the educated middle class. Fast forward to today after a year selling air time – Santi has experienced the transformative power of productive work. She is selling Ruma’s products with confidence and is putting aside her profits for the future – partly for her son’s education and partly to expand her business. An opportunity – that’s all it took for this young woman to be productive and profitable!
How ORFL Helped PT Ruma Grow
ORFL provided the financing needed for PT Ruma, after 9 months of operation, to increase the scale and impact of microfranchise activities, including purchase of a server, development of online and project management information systems and the revising/updating of Ruma’s standard operating procedure.
PT Ruma now has over 10,000 entrepreneurs and their numbers are growing by 20% per month. On average, each new Ruma entrepreneur increases their income by 50%. As more information apps are released, this income will continue to grow.
Nothing Can Stop Her Now
Up to a year ago, Cindi’s little grocery shop in the middle of a noisy, dusty parking lot for long haul trucks made barely enough money to cover food for the family. To get her kids in school, she borrowed at exorbitant interest rates to finance enrolment fees. One day, a field officer from social business PT Ruma offered her an opportunity to sell mobile phone airtime in small quantities – a perfect service for poor customers who can’t afford the expensive phone packages sold by big telecoms. A year later, her added revenue pays for her children’s school enrolment, their books and uniforms all in one go plus a little extra for their school lunches. Her goal now is to save up for her husband’s motorcycle business. A few weeks ago, she was in the hospital for a few days suffering from a pregnancy-related problem. This didn’t stop her business – while there, she signed up loads of new customers from her ward and increased her profits. She is focused on the future. This is how Ruma is transforming lives, families and poor communities.