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Airtel-SKS Microfinance to extend telecom reach in rural AP
Bharti Airtel Limited, India’s and Andhra Pradesh’s leading mobile service provider, today announced its strategic tie-up with SKS Microfinance, India’s largest and the fastest growing microfinance company in the world. The association is part of Airtel’s ambitious ‘Grameena Mobile Kranthi’ campaign to make mobile telephony available and affordable for rural consumers. Airtel’s latest initiative is aimed at enabling every individual in rural India enjoy the benefits of a robust network, seamless connectivity and innovative services - all matching global telecom standards.

Announcing the tie-up, Mr. Deepak Mehrotra, Executive Director, Bharti Airtel Ltd., South said, “The telecom revolution has truly transformed India and we believe that its benefit must reach the rural population. Rural India contributes 54% to India’s GDP and if India has to achieve double digit GDP growth rates then rural India needs to grow at a much faster rate and rural telecom revolution will play a big role in this transformation. As we take our network deeper into the countryside to connect millions of people on to the telecom bandwagon, we look forward to collaborate with people and organizations that share similar aspirations and believe in the power of mobile telephony. We are happy to partner with SKS Microfinance and I am sure that their trusted relationship and extensive reach across many villages will help Airtel  reach out to millions of rural customers and will go a long way in making mobile telephony a way of life in rural India’.

The initiative is aimed at offering mobile handsets bundled with prepaid connections especially for SKS Microfinance members. While, Airtel will provide free prepaid SIM cards to the SKS members, SKS has tied up with Nokia for handsets and would be providing loans to members to purchase the handsets.

Sharing the details of the tie-up, Mr. Elango T., CEO, Mobile Services, Bharti Airtel Ltd, Andhra Pradesh, said “In our journey of ‘Grameena Mobile Kranthi’, this tie-up will give us yet another opportunity to reach out to the rural masses, especially women, who have not yet embraced the mobile revolution. The initial Airtel-SKS launch is at four branches Jogipet, Medak, Ramayampet, Siddipet and this will be rolled out at all the branches at Andhra Pradesh. More than 7.5 lakh SKS members in rural Andhra Pradesh will be benefited with this tie-up”.

Commenting on the tie-up, Dr. Vikram Akula, Founder & CEO, SKS Microfinance said, “This partnership will enable our members to access information and better connect to markets, which will improve their microenterprises and well being. Nearly 50 percent of our 24 lakh members across 15 states would be first time mobile users and we hope to extend this product to all of them. We also look at this as a first step towards offering mobile banking and cashless transactions options to our members.”

In the four branches where the product is being rolled out, SKS has 20000 plus members.

Mr. Devinder Kishore, Director Marketing, Nokia, "While India is adding 8 million subscribers a month, the country still has a huge untapped base, constrained due to the initial cost of the mobile phone. Through this association with SKS and Airtel, we are realising our combined vision of bringing more and more consumers into the folds of mobility."
Source :
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