INTERVIEW: How the MTN Kampala Marathon has benefitted Countless Ugandans

MTN Kampala Marathon has for the past 16 years been an annual edition that has evolved into the biggest athletics event in Uganda. Through its sponsors, the Marathon has raised over 3.5billion shillings since its initial edition to support health, education, and ICT in Uganda.

In an Interview with the telco’s Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Mr. Somdev Sen, the MTN Marathon proceedings have always been distributed to the health and education sectors as per the edition. By this, the MTN Kampala Marathon has benefited countless Ugandans as Somdev explains.

What is the motive of the MTN Kampala Marathon?

As a corporate citizen, we believe that part of our responsibility is to improve the lives of people in communities within which we operate. We believe that there is a limit to the impact a single company can create, and by such, a marathon was born in order to create more with collective effort.

Through the MTN Kampala Marathon, individuals and other corporate organisations come together to contribute ideas, solutions, and funds that can help address many pressing socio-economic needs in communities.

But How does MTN mobilize these funds?

Huawei hands over aUGX 250M cheque for the mtn marathon

Funds are raised through corporate companies who come on board as sponsors of the marathon as well as individuals who choose to participate in the marathon.

Over the years the marathon has attracted an average of 20,000 individual runners and corporate companies like Vision Group, Huawei, Stanbic Bank, Rwenzori, Spedag among others coming together to raise a good amount of money to address given challenges in the communities.

So far how many people’s lives has the MTN Kampala Marathon touched?

It is quite hard to quantify the number of lives that the Marathon has touched over the years. For the past sixteen years, very many people in different communities have benefited from proceedings of the Marathon.

As a matter of fact, the marathon has so far raised over 3.5 billion shillings that has all been spent on various charity projects across Uganda in a conscious effort to enable the country achieve sustainable development goals in areas of health, education, and ICT.

Tell us about the projects that have been undertaken using the MTN Kampala Marathon proceeds so far

In terms of projects, we have executed quite many. We started with supporting mothers in displaced people camps with Mama kits, moved on to providing safe water in Amuria and Karamoja regions, constructed biogas toilets in KCCA schools.

Then, reduced cancer exposure among school children by replacing asbestos roofing with iron sheets, and currently, we are complementing government efforts in maternal health across the country. Each of these projects have lasted for a couple of years.

The MTN CMO Somdev Sen Shares his views on how the MTN Kampala Marathon has shaped communities

So, how much money does the Marathon raise annually?

Again, that varies from year to year, based on a number of factors. But in a nutshell, the marathon proceeds have been increasing progressively over the years. For instance, when we started in 2004, we raised 20million shillings from 1500 participants.

6 years later when other corporate companies joined to sponsor the event, we were able to raise 190 million. Then, In 2015, we hit the UGX 500 million mark and for the last two years, the marathon has raised at least UGX 600 million in both years.

Talking about the last 2 years, MTN extended the Marathon to other regions in the country. What was the motive?

As you may be aware, the MTN Kampala Marathon has evolved into the biggest athletic event in the region. As such, the number of participants had outgrown our capacity in Kampala, and yet, the need for services was still immense in the communities.

Therefore, in order to give more Ugandans a chance to participate in this philanthropic event, we introduced regional runs, which I’m proud to say have been well-received.

The beauty about these races is that they are rotational, so every major town out of Kampala eventually gets to host the marathon with the region.

It is Mid-November already, are their any signs of a 2020 edition of the marathon?

Due to the Covid19 pandemic, we decided, with a heavy heart, not to have the MTN Kampala Marathon this year. The Covid19 guidelines require social distancing and limit crowd gatherings, yet based on the previous crowds, it is evident that it will be impossible to enforce social distancing and the other SOPs during the marathon.

As such, we have decided to call it off this year. Hopefully, if the pandemic ends by the same time next year, we shall then organize a 2021 edition of the marathon as we have done for the last 16 years.

What does the future hold for the MTN Kampala Marathon anyway?

Even though we have seen progress over the years, there is still more to be done in communities. We recognize the fact that government cannot do this on its own.

Therefore, as a company in the business of connecting people, we are still committed to connecting communities for better socio-economic services through mobilizing fellow corporates, individuals, and organizations to help make a difference in communities across Uganda.

Editor’s note: Part of this story is from an official Interview Release Shared with the Tech Point Magazine

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