From NGO to For Profit.
Text To Change (TTC) run social marketing campaigns, collect data and measure impact using mobile technology in emerging markets. TTC connects organizations with their hard-to-reach target groups. Using mobile phone technology TTC create interaction with people on any scale and provide them with valuable personal information. Its extensive expertise comes from 7 years of reaching millions of people across Africa, South America and Asia. TTC’s solutions make sure people receive important information for free, provide opportunity for people to voice their opinion by asking questions, and collecting valuable data. These mobile phone-based platforms are scalable, cost-effective, easy-to-use and guarantee the measurability of results.
TTC’s first interactive SMS campaign had the aim to create awareness around HIV/AIDS and to stimulate people to get tested. The campaign was launched on February 14th 2008 in Uganda and reached 15,000 people. This large-scale mHealth campaign was one of the first of its kind in Africa. The goal of the campaign was to get people to go to an HIV/AIDS test centre to get tested. The number of people that were tested during the campaign doubled due to the mobile intervention. This impressive result encouraged the founders of TTC to build their own mobile text message system and provide this resource to organizations as an additional communication and data collection channel in emerging markets. From this point on, TTC have successfully implemented more than a hundred projects in 17 countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia; ranging from health, agriculture, education and even to economic development.
To find out more about Text To Change visit: www.ttcmobile.com
Dinfin Mulupi of HowWeMadeIt speaks with Bas Hoefman founder of Text To Change (TTC) on its transition from NGO to For Profit:
What drove TTC’s transition into a for-profit social enterprise and how different is it today?
People in Africa are willing to pay for relevant services and information. From a practical point of view, organisations hired us for the quality of our work regardless of whether we were an NGO or a business. We have always had a sustainable business model. After realising that being an NGO was no longer a requirement, we changed our entity.
Because we never perceived ourselves as an NGO to start with, things are not far different now compared with our days as an NGO. We still serve many clients from the non-profit sector but also more private sector organisations that require a different approach. In that regard, things needed to change so we were all on the same page. In light of this, we decided to do a rebranding that gives TTC a more business look and feel which is more appealing to private sector clients. Our main driver remains social impact but now with a profit-making approach.
What are the benefits and challenges that came as part of this transition?
One of the benefits of being a social business is that we become interesting for investors that allow us to scale up our activities. The challenge is to find the right investor who is aligned with the company’s values. TTC is a social enterprise which means that we emphasise on social impact as much as on financial returns. It is sometimes challenging to find the right balance between the two.
As an NGO, you are not expected to make a profit whereas as a business you don’t survive without making profit; that’s a world of difference. It is challenging and a competitive market but in my view this is the way forward, and the advantage is that you become more alert as an organisation.