“It’s not supposed to be purely an image thing, you have to be part of society,” says Thomas Hundt, Smart Axiata Chief Executive Officer. Known as one of the country’s largest mobile telecommunication entity, Smart does more than just connect eight million people in the country to their family and friends. It is also paving the path for future leaders of the country and the company is excelling at it through their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs.
Smart’s CSR framework consists of various programs tailored to contribute and build Cambodia’s young minds to be the cream of the crop, to further contribute to the Kingdom. Education being the company’s flagship area of CSR initiatives has propelled many of the country’s youth to success. “Cambodia has had a lot of challenges in terms of education in the past and we want to change that,” says Thomas while highlighting the company’s past contribution as well as future initiatives and collaboration. Partnerships with UNESCO and the Ministry of Education in 2015 saw the biggest ever literacy program being conducted, which resulted in over 90,000 people propel their reading and writing skills. Smart was also involved in successfully getting dropout students back to school through UNESCO’s Basic Education Equivalency Program, and further provides SmartEdu Scholarships worth up to $ 300,000 for up to 20 scholars in support of their university education each year.
Program brands such as SmartEdu and SmartStart have garnered positive reactions among the youth in the country. Their collaboration with the Ministry of Posts and Telecom-munications (MPTC) and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) has successfully taught young leaders to come up with digital solutions, as part of initiatives such as SmartStart, which has shown success since its launch in 2017.
As part of a $1.5 mil MoU with MoEYS and MPTC, the SmartEdu University Student Development Program aims to produce characters with the best leadership capabilities as well as to challenge the status quo. The development program also aims to polish creativity, critical thinking and communication as well as digital skills.
The company has also showcased tremendous efforts in giving back to society by having their very own employees volunteer in activities such as community literacy programs, tree planting, beach cleanups as well painting houses for those in need. Community Sports has also been area of focus for Smart Axiata as the Chief Executive Officer believes that engaging activities like sports helps youth to build characters as well as equip them with a purpose in life.
“It’s important for youngsters out there who don’t have opportunities and sports help to provide the right opportunities,” says Hundt. Smart has also focused in promoting STEM and lifting young entrepreneurs as well as students to bring their ideas to further heights through their initiatives such as SmartStart as well partnerships with organisations such as Impact Hub, NIPTICT, Development Innovations, Mekong Strategic Partners, Seedstars to provide as well as run mentorships, hackathons, forums and workshops.
With the intention to give back to the society and the country, Smart has certain showcased that their CSR initiatives are not just a part of the company’s corporate policy but it has always been ingrained in the DNA of their core mission; to advocate for a better future.
“Smart has always taken our national responsibilities very seriously. Besides contributing to national development funds and government income, over 1% of Smart’s annual revenue is allocated for CSR programs that make significant
impact at the communities in which we operate,” Hundt concluded.