It may have been the end of MOBTEL, but my love and believe in mobile remained, and I joined MTN as a field marketer, a junior post with little pay, but I had to be in mobile, I could see myself nowhere else.
The job briefing was a simple one, go and visit dealers and resellers in the rural country side, develop the MTN relationship with these resellers from an MTN perspective, train these resellers on the products and services of MTN, merchandising the stores and general support where required, I excelled and travelled across the entire country spreading the MTN brand passionately.
I could not stick to the standard briefing as explained in the job description, I had to do more, I had to make a difference and very soon I have set up a comprehensive communication network with hundreds of resellers across the country, with regular alerts, updates and eventually also supporting structure for regional marketing and event support.
I ended up acquiring a huge yellow MTN branded caravan, a yellow MTN branded 4×4 pickup and a variety of marketing materials, I became captain MTN in the rural areas as I drove from town to town spreading the MTN word in the different communities, I made friends with everyone, met community leaders and left many towns with food baskets made for me by the local community accompanied by children’s art that drew me them and my caravan, occasionally a heart as well, always a sun, the world was a bright yellow MTN for me, I was passionate about what I did, yet again.
During this period, I also had great successes in development of the channels and the MTN brand, interfacing with technical teams, marketing, product development, customer care and distribution development, I was the voice, eyes and ears of MTN in the rural areas, and we did great things, we even developed the world’s first GSM enabled PABX in one of these smaller towns, and my stories of life on the road for MTN became an entertaining feedback in the company magazine to equally passionate people back at Head Office.
On one of these trips I received a call that would change my life drastically, alter my career and outlook on life forever, the call told me that MTN would be expanding to a country called Rwanda and that there is a need for a volunteer to go set up a call center over a six-week period, I immediately said yes, this sounded like a great adventure and within a few weeks I found myself in a cargo plane, flown by Russians and packed to the brim with all sorts of supplies and technical equipment, heading for Rwanda, a country I knew absolutely nothing about, except that a terrible genocide took place there in 1994 and that the country was largely French speaking.