Hormuud was named the best employer, the leading in corporate social responsibility and the overall firm of the year. The telecom boasts of 2.5 million subscribers, 5,000 employees and about 4,000 shareholders majority of who are ordinary Somalis.
Somalia’s leading telecom company Hormuud was named the best employer, the leading in corporate social responsibility and the overall firm of the year in the inaugural Somali Annual Business Awards (SABA) held in Mogadishu on January 12, 2017.
The telecom boasts of 2million subscribers, 5,000 employees and about 4,000 shareholders majority of who are ordinary Somalis. This is the first award – through assessment – that the company has won since its establishment in 2002.
And just like its name (Hormuud which means the leading one in Somali), it is a leader in provision of telephone and Internet services despite the odds it has had to endure since its inception 15 years ago.
Hormuud Operations Manager, Abdikarin Mohamed Kariye says the company’s human resource policy is not on paper like is often the case in some companies. “We build our employees’ capacity and in one time or the other a good number of them are outside the country to advance their skills. We also give them bonuses commensurate to the number of years they have worked for the company,” he says.
The telecom company also has a pension scheme that ensures families of their employees get payouts in case of death and to ensure that the next of kin are not left without a breadwinner, the company offers employment to a member of an employee’s family corresponding to their skills in case of death.
From the awards organizers and judges this is significant in many ways especially because of the business environment and the high cost of doing business in Somalia. For decades, there have been no regulatory policies consequently; many businesses especially the small and medium enterprises have been operating informally.
In 2011, Hormuud developed an innovative service popularly known as EVC Plus [an electronic Voucher Card + Petty cash mobile wallet]. This had made it possible for subscribers to pay for services at the click of a button. “The initial objective of Evcplus was to baid our subscribers recharge airtime for their mobile and to give customers freedom and convinience. However, due to visible needs, Somali businessmen and women began to use it for their business transactions and this marked the beginning of Evcplus performing a pity cash” says Hormuud’s Marketing Manager, Ahmed Adam. The maximum amount a customer can hold in his or her EVCplus account is limited to $ 300 at any given time. Mr. Ahmed notes.
“True to our name Hormuud, we shall keep leading in Somalia’s telecom industry through innovations and provision of first class services to our subscribers,” Kariye notes.” Abdikarin Mohamed Kariye, Hormuud Telecom Operations Manager.
Now, customers do more than buy scratch cards. They can pay bills, shop or and receive money remittance directly to their EVC Plus account. They can also enjoy banking from the comfort of their houses. Further, Salaam Somali Bank customers can deposit and withdraw money through Deeqtoon Service – which is the connection between EVC Plus and the bank.
To ensure quality of services, Hormuud has unique satellite network connectivity in the capital Mogadishu, as well as southcentral Somalia. This means that Internet connectivity in areas covered by Hormuud is almost uninterrupted. This is noteworthy since few telecoms in Africa have invested in such a network due to cost implications. “We provide the fastest Internet connectivity in Somalia and we ensure that there are few interruptions or disruptions in our services,” says Mr. Kariye.
For the company to remain competitive, its planning to roll out various products and services that is aimed to sustain its leading role in the Somalia telecommunication sector. Kariye says due to the rise of Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and other popular social media platforms; the company must be dynamic and innovative in its products and services. “These services have forced operators to reduce costs, which has triggered a revenue decline in some instances,” he says.
However, Kariye is optimistic that competition is good for business and keeps the company on its toes by constantly coming up with innovative products. “We have the skills and knowhow to compete with global giants. One of the ways for a company to survive is to be innovative. Every so often, we come up with new products for our customers,” he says.
Plans are also on last stage for Hormuud to diversity its portfolio into e-commerce. “This move is a pointer to the fact that Somali enterprise has grown and businesses are ready for online transactions,” says Kariye. The driving force behind this product is expected to be Somalis in the Diaspora, who have also been a key driver in the reconstruction of the country. In the next few years, the company plans to invest more in data infrastructure to enhance Internet connectivity especially to big businesses and also to increase the handling of data. It also hopes to create greater collaborations with IT companies to diversify their products. “True to our name Hormuud, we shall keep leading in Somalia’s telecom industry through innovations and provision of first class services to our subscribers,” Kariye notes.
Before we part, Kariye advices young Somali entrepreneurs to take advantage of new ventures in Somalia and make use of available investment opportunities.
These awards mean a lot for Hormuud Telecom as far as its image improvement, reputation and management practices are concerned. This is the first award-through assessement- that the company has won since its establishement in 2002. This recognition is a translation of the reality and is an indication that their operations are beyond reproach and we won based on the parametesr and conditions set by SABA Awards jury,” he concludes.