Call me Tigo: Latin America and Africa are mobile

Millicom, originally a Swedish company created in the early eighties, […]

April 22, 2013

Millicom, originally a Swedish company created in the early eighties, started in the cellular industry. Established in Luxembourg for two decades, Millicom is nowadays the reference in emerging markets in cellular telephony services.

With a turnover of 5 billion Euros, Millicom is without doubt one of Luxembourg’s most discreet and largest companies after ArcelorMittal. The company is a leading telecom operator dedicated to emerging markets in Latin America and Africa. Millicom sets the pace when it comes to providing digital lifestyle services to the world’s emerging markets, giving access to the world, primarily through mobile devices. Millicom develops innovative products and services that are affordable, useful and fun and sells them on every street corner. The company has a track record of consistent profitable growth, based on market-leading services, innovation, a pioneering commitment to emerging markets, significant network investment and creating an exciting working environment and ethos that is constantly demanding more.

Under the Tigo trademark, Millicom provides affordable, widely accessible and readily available prepaid cellular telephony services to more than 45 million customers in 15 emerging markets in Latin America and Africa. Millicom’s proven prepaid, mass market distribution and perceived price leadership strategy have enabled it to continue to pursue high growth while delivering operating profitability. In addition Millicom operates cable and broadband businesses in Central America and Paraguay. The MIC group licensed about 273 million people in its operating markets. In 2012, Millicom invested in the online and e-commerce services focusing on Latin America and Africa and alongside proven experts of the online world from Rocket Internet (German Berlin–based online company).

Responsible Millicom

Millicom pays a lot of attention to its corporate responsibility in the business.
The company shows its commitment to operating ethically, managing risk in the supply chain, reducing the direct impact on the environment and making Millicom a great place to work. Doing this makes the business stronger, and helps it to build trust with all stakeholders in the current and prospective markets.

On the other hand, Millicom engages in communities with a goal: to empower women and children with the help of digital solutions. Gender equality remains a challenge in many of the covered markets – but inequality is a barrier to economic and social development, which is why Millicom believes it’s important to take a stand.

Who are Millicom’s customers?

Millicom started out as a mobile telephony operator in emerging countries. The company was founded by a Swedish entrepreneur, Jan Steinbeck, and from the very beginning has managed its operations from its Luxembourg headquarters. Our business is currently concentrated in two markets, with 80% of our income originating in Latin America and the remaining 20% in Africa. Our business model has evolved and our aim now is to offer our customers the best possible digital experience, whether on the move or at home, from telephone services to Internet access, pay TV and mobile financial services. We are present in 15 countries: eight in Latin America and seven in Africa. In more than 90% of our markets, our mobile telephony solutions are either the market leaders or in number two position.

What opportunities are there for your company?

There are lots of opportunities for us thanks to our very strong brand: “Tigo”. It is one of the most highly regarded brands in our markets. In Spanish, “tigo” is the diminutive form of “contigo”, or “with you”. In the voice sector, our markets are approaching maturity, but 3G is opening up significant growth opportunities in the area of data.

As an innovative company, we have also developed alternative services for mobile terminals, for instance, our “Mobile Financial Services” (MFS). In Guatemala, workers who send 50 dollars to their families each week give the money to the bus driver who passes near their home. An expensive and risky solution! The situation is even more complicated in Africa. Tigo allows you to load money onto your SIM card in one of 650,000 sales outlets. You can then keep these funds, transfer them by SMS or use them to pay your bills, for example. This is a real revolution for people who have only ever known cash as a means of payment. We are also working with specialist partners to develop medical solutions,
including telephone consultations.

What role does Luxembourg play in your model?

We employ more than 100 people here, a mixture of 40 different nationalities. We are a very welcoming and open company. Luxembourg is an ideal location for this kind of melting pot. From here, we develop international strategies to help Tigo consolidate its leading position. Like a Coca-Cola or a Procter & Gamble, Tigo is a mass retail brand with strong emotional values and a dense and powerful reseller network. From a telephone operator, we have evolved into a “Digital Lifestyle Company” that sells music, financial services, games and many more added value services designed to make our customers’ lives easier and more fun. For example, we have just invested in the South African equivalent of Zalando and, on a very different note, in Asunción in Paraguay, the police verify individuals’ identities by sending an SMS and receiving instructions in response. This is an effective step in the fight against corruption. This is the innovation service model that we’re proud of.

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