Constanza Pino, Human Value´s Director, WOM Colombia

Constanza always seeks to generate positive changes in society by building different and disruptive organizational cultures. She is an Occupational Psychologist,  graduated with High Honors from Universidad Mayor of Chile and a Master’s in Human Resources and Organizational Development from Universidad del Desarrollo, in addition, she completed a Diploma in Leadership from Pontificia Universidad Católica of Chile. With more than 12 years of experience in Human Resources, she has led notable cultural, organizational, and business changes in Telecommunications companies such as Nextel and WOM, where she was part of the construction of the company’s organizational strategy in Chile, linked to the culture transformation, innovation and the digitization of its processes. In 2020, she arrived in Colombia with her husband and two daughters, with the same purpose and to start the construction of WOM as the fourth mobile telephone operator in the country and to lead the Human Value area.

 

Every day we see news related to global warming, immigration, poverty, violence, great challenges that lead all actors of society to commit to guarantee a promising future for the following generations. This is the well-known 2030 Purpose, for which the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were created, that draw a roadmap and specify improvement purposes at a social, environmental, and economic level applicable to the whole world.

As a telecommunications company we know that although connectivity has become an essential service for life, and with the pandemic even more, in the 21st century there are still millions of people who do not have access to mobile phone services, restricting the opportunities that the digital society offers today. For this reason, we work to connect the unconnected in line with the Sustainable Development Goals to democratize connectivity and generate a positive impact on society, with digitization as the engine of development.

How has this been reflected in our operation? When WOM arrived in Chile, the southern country had the highest cost per Gigabyte in Latin America because the telecommunications market had been static for several years, but with the arrival of a new mobile operator, an unprecedented dynamism was seen in the sector, which generated a reduction in prices and an increase in the consumption of Gigabytes, allowing Chileans to be more and better connected.

When we arrived in Colombia, we found a market with more than 20 million Colombians without access to 4G, the second most expensive Gigabyte in the region, and with the highest unemployment levels in its history due to the pandemic´s effect (24 .5%, according to the National Administrative Department of Statistics – DANE) which affected the income of households and started an inflationary phenomenon that even today is causing debate due to the high prices that people are paying, at the time of which has the most devalued currency in Latin America, as recently reported by The Economist.

Without a doubt, with less than a year of operation, the effect of WOM’s entry into the country has been evident and we are promoting the transformation that we wanted to achieve. Today, while Colombians are paying 111% more for food such as potatoes, an essential for most households, the prices of postpaid mobile services have decreased by 42% and, in general, the Information and Communications sector reached the lowest Consumer Price Index (CPI) during 2021 compared to the other sectors of the economy, with a variation of -12.10%.

But beyond prices and accessibility, the most gratifying has been the benefits that access to connectivity has brought: entire families that now have internet all month, the use of digital platforms for entrepreneurs who did not know about that before, and virtual education for children in remote areas. And it is clear that connectivity contributes to the generation of income for people, to their personal and professional development, but guaranteeing access is only the beginning, the challenge we have as a society and as a sector is to accompany the process of appropriation and use of technologies, especially for those communities that have access to the digital world for the first time.

When we participated in the spectrum auction in 2019, we committed with the National Government to connect populations that had never had access to mobile telephony services, in line with the current Government’s goal of achieving 70% of the population connected to 4G by 2022. To date, and in record time, we have brought connectivity for the first time to 644 rural communities in the country, benefiting 450,000 people in more than 24 departments who had never had access to the internet, and didn´t know how to use a computer, emails or WhatsApp, hard to believe but true.

In this way we found a difficult reality, bringing them antennas and a signal was not enough and several questions arose: How are they going to take advantage of the technology if they do not know how to use it? How safe can it be, considering the risks on the internet? What can we do so that they use it for their development? It is important to recognize that as technology and digitization advance, more possibilities are opened up, but at the same time more people are excluded from its benefits, and for this not to happen, education is essential.

To also take it into account, ECLAC and UNESCO affirmed that in Colombia only 67% of 15-year-old students have an Internet connection, 62% access to a computer and 29% educational software, clearly facing this situation those who have greater restrictions in access are students in rural areas. For this reason, at WOM we decided to accompany these communities that were having access to the internet for the first time in their digital appropriation processes and positively impact more communities in Colombia through digital education. In this way, in 2021, we launched our “Parche Digital” program in Juan y Medio.

Juan y Medio, is a village near Riohacha, La Guajira, the second department with the highest poverty rate in the country, which was the place with which we launched our signal in the country and made our first call in Colombia in the 2020. Before the arrival of WOM, its inhabitants had to travel more than two hours to access the internet signal, climb trees to get some signal, there were children and adults in the community who had never seen a computer before.  For years they were disconnected, restricted from opportunities.

From WOM, in addition to providing the technological infrastructure in digital classrooms, we seek to guide the entire process of literacy, appropriation and digital citizenship with the support of Google Education, through its educational content. Likewise, the project includes complementary training through an educational platform aimed at the development and promotion of computational thinking for children, as well as training in digital entrepreneurship for adults.

To date, 18 teachers from Juan y Medio have completed the first training phase of the digital literacy program, making them knowledge replicators for 250 students from the Sierra Nevada educational institution. Also, in total, 118 grade 11 students can present, for the first time, the Saber 11 tests (official government tests) virtually in the classroom that we deliver, avoiding traveling to other areas of the department. In addition, small businesses are also receiving training through “Veciwomers” the digital training program for entrepreneurs: in business management, digital marketing, finance, among others, to receive all the necessary tools to improve their business projects.

The population of Juan y Medio has not been the only beneficiary, the impact of this program has been spreading nationwide. We have decided to provide knowledge in digital tools to entrepreneurs throughout the country to carry out their businesses at another level, through the different phases of the program: WOM Academy and Mentoring. The first phase comprises 5 courses that provide tools for digital and financial inclusion, through a dynamic training path that allows certification with the EAN University and The Biz Nation, and the second phase consists of personalized support through mentoring with WOMers volunteers with extensive experience in issues related to business development, to continue the training process of the beneficiaries through guided advice on each entrepreneurial idea.

In this way, more than 1,000 entrepreneurs nationwide have benefited from “Veciwomers” and today they use digital tools for their businesses, offering new value offers to their communities. And as we always say at WOM, this is just the beginning because we are aiming for more, for more opportunities for digital education throughout the country and more affordability of mobile telephony services, in fact, WOm became the first operator to have a direct presence in Siloé, the 20th commune of Cali that for years has been stigmatized by problems such as violence, crime and lack of opportunities, but this does not impede us, these are reasons to arrive and transform people’s life, and this community will soon benefit from both educational programs.

Definitely, companies must go beyond the simple profitability of the business, they must be agents of change for society because it is possible to transform our environment, with opportunities and hope for everyone. At WOM we work with the firm intention of reducing the digital divide existing in Colombia and we believe that digital education is the great enabler to achieve this goal.

Related Articles