Digital Declaration Leadership Series: Spotlight on Millicom
The Digital Declaration report ‘Navigating the era of responsible business leadership in today’s world’ showcases how the Digital Declaration signatories are turning their aspirations into concrete actions and how technology can foster an inclusive, trusted and innovative digital society for all.
This series of interviews provides a spotlight on individual leaders sharing their insights and perspectives around trust, inclusion and innovation in the digital age.
Millicom: Building Digital Highways that connect people, improve lives and develop communities.
In conversation with Mauricio Ramos, CEO, Millicom.
Millicom has been guided by its purpose to build digital highways that connect people, improve lives and develop communities. Please explain how these social values have been embedded into the company’s purpose?
At Millicom | TIGO, we build critical infrastructure in the form of digital highways which enable connectivity in the markets we serve. This leads to responsibly fostering an environment where our employees, customers, and communities can prosper and reach their full potential.
As we fulfil our purpose to build these digital highways, we harness innovation to create a brighter future in our markets. We are working hard to help our communities overcome connectivity obstacles – such as the lack of coverage (especially in rural areas), affordability, and lack of familiarity with digital tools – so they can access the digital world and achieve technological breakthroughs. When we address these challenges, we all benefit as a society.
How has Millicom embedded its purpose and values into its corporate strategy across the organisation, and how is this measured?
We often see many companies focus solely on business results without realising the need for a societal purpose. I feel fortunate to lead a company whose success is so organically linked with our purpose. Our success and future are intertwined with that of the countries in which we operate. Only the successful deployment of high-speed networks will create robust digital economies fit-for-purpose for the future.
What makes me feel the proudest and most excited about how TIGO contributes to our markets, is the energy we channel throughout our business. This energy goes into fulfilling a purpose that benefits all our four key stakeholders: from our investors and customers to our employees and communities.
We’ve come a long way in our efforts to invest in the networks that enable connectivity, but still, only 60 per cent of Latin Americans have a 4G mobile connection, and on average only 30 per cent to 40 per cent of the population has fixed broadband. Therefore, we have a great responsibility to continue doing our part to connect the unconnected. In today’s important conversation around Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) principles, I can say without a doubt, ESG is driving our purpose and serves as our guiding star. As we fulfil our purpose, we become stronger and even prouder of what we do.
Through our ESG work, we seek to manage risks, tap into opportunities, create positive impacts, and build relationships to foster the conditions we need to thrive in the short and long term. This is why it has become increasingly important to our investors – many of which are long-standing advocates in this field.
I strongly believe the only way for us to prosper as a company in the long term is to not only continue delivering strong financial performance but also to continue making a positive contribution to society by fulfilling our purpose to build digital highways that connect people, improve lives and develop communities.
Could you provide examples of programmes that show you are turning your commitments into action?
Guided by our ESG principles, we focus the power of TIGO’s digital highways into programmes that fuel greater economic, social, and educational opportunities. We do this in the markets we serve through flagship programmes aimed at empowering people and promoting social good.
- Conectate Segur@, which is focused on helping children safely explore, learn and grow through digital tools by providing essential educational tools on the risks and opportunities of digital technology. Through Conectate Segur@, we have trained 600,000 children and adolescents, 146,000 parents and caretakers, and 155,000 teachers with Child Online Protection (COP) training in the markets where we operate. Our employees have volunteered a total of 98,000 hours for this important mission since 2017.
- With the exceptional increase of online usage due to virtual schooling amid the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, we developed and implemented the Maestr@s Conectad@s programme, providing practical tools and strengthening teachers’ soft skill capabilities to adapt to the needs of virtual schooling. To date, we have successfully trained over 137,000 teachers through this programme.
- We also have our Conectadas programme, which is aimed at reducing the gender gap with the use of mobile technology through digital literacy and educational programmes to help advance women’s entrepreneurial skills. From 2017 to 2019, more than 324,000 adolescent girls and women were trained digitally via our Conectadas programmes. In 2020 alone, we educated more than 90,000 women via digital training programmes which became absolutely critical in the context of strict lockdowns, making digital literacy more important than ever before.
- Lastly, TIGO Comunidades helps communities prosper by building digital highways, providing digital education, and equipping them with access to technology. In 2020 alone, we connected more than 2,700 schools and public institutions to provide consistent Internet access region-wide with the onset of the Covid-19 global pandemic.
We also recently signed a collaboration with Fundación Real Madrid that will enable us to bring such programmes to more than 11,200 boys and girls and their families. Over the next five years, this collaboration will facilitate the sustainability of more than 65 social sports projects by the Foundation in our nine Latin American countries. I’m very excited about this alliance as it is based on values we share with Real Madrid to improve education and the future of children because connectivity and football bring people together.