Jazz, Pakistan’s largest digital services provider, pledged a whooping Rs 1.2 billion support toward Covid-19 support on April 8. The support includes short to mid-term initiatives aimed to limit the negative impact of the pandemic, primarily for the most vulnerable communities.
Talking to ProPakistani, Jazz CEO Aamir Ibrahim laid out how the money will actually be spent.
“The rollout of the support initiative could span three months and will have three major components,” said Aamir Ibrahim.
The components include: reducing Jazz revenue through discounted services, support to welfare organizations, and providing rations to the needy.
About 70% of the pledged support will go to discounted Jazz services and tariff-free internet for those who need it, Aamir informed.
“We will be reducing our revenue by offering zero-rated and subsidized services for access to emergency care, medical helplines, and critical health applications, which have been either marked-down or made free for customers under this coronavirus relief effort,” he said.
Added support will come in through subsidized voice and data bundles and mobile payments. “Free transfer of funds through JazzCash will be the highlight of the initiative as it will massively support online transactions,” Aamir said.
He added that JazzCash users will be incentivized and sign-up process for JazzCash mobile wallets will be accelerated so that relief can be provided urgently by donors directly to local community members most impacted by this pandemic.
The remaining 30% of the support will be used for medical aid via welfare organizations and provision of rations to the needy.
Aamir said that the company will partner with bona fide welfare organizations, such as Shaukat Khanum, Edhi Foundation, or Akhuwat Foundation to distribute medical supplies to the hospitals.
“Ventilators, masks, and other protective gear are what hospitals and medical staffs urgently need right now to save citizens’ and their own lives. So we’ll make these distributions in partnership with welfare organizations to major hospitals fighting the pandemic,” he added.
As for the provision of rations to the ones most affected by the pandemic, Aamir said that the company has a different approach for it.
“We don’t want to deliver provisions to the doorsteps for two main reasons,” he said. First, we don’t have the resources needed for the huge undertaking, and second, we want the business of the local grocery stores to remain unaffected in these hard times, Aamir added.
So, Jazz will instead be making cash donations via JazzCash for the purchase of groceries. This way, the small shop owners in remote areas will also be able to continue their business amid the crisis.
For this purpose, Jazz will mobilize its extensive network of 90,000 JazzCash franchises and retailers across the country. “This, besides facilitating people in practicing social distancing, will boost financial inclusion in Pakistan that is a key constituent of the Digital Pakistan vision,” Aamir said.
He said the crisis can be turned into a huge opportunity to expedite our pace towards the Digital Pakistan that we envision.
The massive support from Jazz is commendable and should serve as an example for other industry players to follow. It comes at a time when the poverty- and coronavirus-stricken communities have diminished hopes of sustaining their livelihoods.