Hajo van Beijma co-founded Text to Change (TTC) and has been working on the Text to Change programs. Hajo is responsible for developing new programs, partnerships and heading the finance department.
With a special interest in health communication it has been always one of his goals to work in Africa. When he learnt about the enormous growth of mobile telephony, especially in Africa, he got the idea of using Mobile telephones to reach out to people with health and educational messages. Together with two colleagues he founded the Text to Change (TTC) Foundation early 2007.
Until now Mobile telephony was never been used on such a large scale and systematic manner for this purpose. Text to Change has created an uptake in HIV testing of 35% in the regions where they launch their text message based quiz. After the pilot period TTC has scaled up and is now working on all health topics in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Namibia.
We were honored when Hajo took time out of his busy schedule to address our questions...
www.infoafricanow.com: What inspired you to work in Africa
Hajo: Being born in The Netherlands the first thing I learned is that the world is bigger than the 15 million people there. I always looked for a job with more adventure and once you hit the ground in Africa you know you want to go back and do more with the resources we have in Europe to support the bottom-up ICT innovation in Africa.
www. infoafricanow.com: How did the concept of TTC come about?
Hajo: The three founders of TTC had a mixed background: ICT, Marketing and a medical doctor. The medical doctor discussed the lack of innovation at HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns around the world and the other two came up with text message quizzes, one thing led to another.
www.infoafricanow.com: With resounding success in Uganda, what are TTC's future plans?
Hajo: TTC has expanded to Kenya, Namibia and will soon start in Tanzania, Cameroon and Bolivia. TTC wants to address more health topics and is starting to work on adding value to economic development and educational programs as well.
www.infoafricanow.com: How can the private sector in Africa support mobile phone initiatives?
Hajo: The private sector is very important, mobile operators play a key role in our partnerships and we have also setup awareness campaigns among the employees of companies in Uganda and Kenya.
www.infoafricanow.com: Any words of advice to those wishing to venture into the African
mobile phone market?
Hajo: Look at bottom-up demand from people in the region where you want to work, mobile banking and mobile money transfers are a great example that include a business model as well. Combining current microfinance projects with mobile phones and ventures working on social mobile advertising have my interest...
For more information, have a look at www.texttochange.com