LISTEN NOW: Partnering During Crisis


Author: Sarah Corley

This webinar discussed findings from the recent GSMA Mobile for Humanitarian Innovation report, Partnering During Crisis, on how mobile network operators (MNOs) and humanitarian organisations can partner for impactful delivery of aid and services, and share perspectives. Guest Speakers shared their lessons on how partnerships with humanitarian organisations can be designed for success, including during the curent COVID-19 crisis.

Speakers at the webinar were Max Cuvellier, Head of GSMA’s Mobile for Development, Belinda Baah, Senior Insights Manager of GSMA’s Mobile for Development, Yazen Altimimi,CEO of ZainCash Iraq and Jerry Mobbs, Managing Director of Vodacom Mozambique.

The scale and coverage of mobile networks makes them a suitable and attractive partner for the delivery of humanitarian assistance payments. MNOs and humanitarian organisations are now recognising the role each other has and are partnering to digtalise the humanitarian ecosystem. This partnership offers the potential for success, but involves two very different types of organisations working together which inevitably has its challenges. Understanding each other’s motives and perspectives can help both parties in engaging in effective long-term partnerships. The report has practical tips and case studies to help both organisations understand and work with their partner more effectively.

The panelists from MNO’s, Jerry Mobbs and Yazen Altimimi expressed their organisation’s desire and passion to assist their country during a crisis, but outlined how their approach and priorities may differ from the humanitarian organisations. The MNO will be looking at ensuring the country’s network remains stable and available to all during an immediate crisis and that any collaborations need to make commercial and long-term sense for the MNO. The humanitarian organisation needs to respond as quickly as possible to generate and distribute aid. Both Jerry and Yazen recommend building relationships between organisations is crucial before there is a crisis, regular dialogue and transparency is key. It is important to understand each other’s objectives and perspectives and openly collaborate on initiatives and products. The MNO can also be proactive and reach out with information and ideas, such as sharing big data that helps understand the impact and risks of COVID-19, which helps open doors and get MNOs involved early on to help shape implementation strategy.