Orascom Telecom, the parent company of Mobilink and Obopay, the mobile money solutions pioneer, have partnered to establish a text-to-donate relief effort in the United States to provide continuing funds to Pakistan in order to rebuild both the infrastructure and the lives of those affected by recent floods.
Where text-to-donate programs following the disaster in Haiti typically took 90 to 180 days to reach the right resources in the country, this new offering can provide much more rapid funding to the cause.
"There is always an immediate sympathetic and monetary reaction when disasters like this occur," said Naguib Sawiris, Executive Chairman of OTH, which operates in Pakistan as Mobilink. "However, the tremendous suffering, and the need for aid, continues for months after the initial tragedy. We want to make sure that funds continue to flow until the job is done. This becomes equally, if not more, important," he added. "The aftermath can end up taking as many lives as the initial disaster if action is not continued to restore the infrastructure – providing food, water and a renewed means of earning a living. And that is a huge undertaking. By employing Obopay’s ‘Text-to-Donate’ solution, individuals can provide truly meaningful donations which are delivered rapidly."
Obopay’s Text-to-Donate service has technology similar to what was used to spur donations to the Haitian earthquake relief last year. One key difference, however, is that by making the credit or debit card and the bank account the source of funding for the text rather than the telecom bill, Obopay’s Text-to-Donate enables donors to contribute much larger amounts, as opposed to the $5 and $10 limits allowed through telecommunications companies. The money can also be put to use by relief organizations quickly.
"When a catastrophe like this strikes, getting the proper amount of funds to the region saves lives," said Obopay Founder and CEO Carol Realini. "The sooner funds get in the proper hands, the sooner they can restore some semblance of order to people’s lives, not to mention fight the spread of disease and shortages of food and clean water. We are proud to be able to provide our services to Mobilink Foundation, to further scale their efforts in meeting the relief and rehabilitation needs of the people across Pakistan."
It is estimated that the damage from the floods, which over the past month have affected more than 20 million residents of Pakistan and have killed more than 2,000, is bigger than the 2004 Tsunami, 2005 Kashmir Earthquake and the 2010 Haiti Earthquake combined.
How to Donate (for Subscribers in USA)
To donate through the OTH-Obopay Text-to-Donate offering, people in the US are asked to text the keyword, "PAKISTAN" to the shortcode 48510.
Texters then receive a return text message that includes a link to a mobile internet checkout page where they can elect to pay by debit card or by entering a phone number and PIN.
The funds are then automatically deposited in Mobilink Foundation’s account, giving them fast access to the money to build much needed homes and shelters.
The Foundation also procures packs of dry food ration (each unit sufficient for two weeks for a family of seven), hygiene kits (sufficient for one month for a family of seven) and non-food item packs containing kitchen utensils, mats, water coolers, bedding (non-perishable pack for a family of seven) and aims to support affectees in the rebuilding process and facilitate livelihood opportunities post repatriation.