Freedom Fone

Enhancing business opportunities

Tina has just started ZimOut: an entertainment magazine that covers events, an eat-out, cinema and festival guide in her hometown Harare. For a while she has been struggling to cover print costs and distribution in a city where there are already two established magazines that deal with events and entertainment.

Both of her competitors already reach a young middle-class audience who are internet savvy and only attend established and pricy venues. After hearing about the successes of Freedom Fone at her local community radio where her friend Joe works, Tina decides to try a little experiment. She sees a chance to use Freedom Fone to target a wider audience to complement her magazine. Besides the usual "hype" places, she plans to promote interesting, less frequented venues and events, while attracting more advertising. Can it work?

After downloading the latest version of Freedom Fone from the website (what has she to lose, after all it's free!) and investing in a one sim-card MobiGater – the cheapest option that will suit her trial version - she begins to plan her rocking new service.

The idea is for a ZimOut hotline that anyone can call at any time, night or day, and receive instant, up-to-date information on events, eating-out, films, gigs and upcoming events. The service uses the Voice Menu functions:

"To find out what is going on tonight in your area, press 1; to listen to the latest review of best restaurants, press 2." etc.

A final option encourages callers to Leave-a-Message and share their feedback and experience, with the added incentive of winning a free year subscription to ZimOut for the most interesting story.

On each monthly edition of her magazine Tina dedicates a margin on the back cover to advertise the ZimOut hotline. To create more publicity, she also asks Joe at radio to publicise the ZimOut hotline in their daily broadcasts. Within no time at all the service is receiving up to 300 callers a day and has a number of entertaining text messages and soundbites for Tina to include on both her print and website edition.

Wilfred and Sheila, an elderly couple who have become avid subscribers to ZimOut for its entertaining stories and regular callers to the hotline had this to say:

"ZimOut is just for us. Before we hardly ever went out because we never knew what was on and when and what sort of service to expect. Now, we can easily find out what's happening when we want."

Soon advertisers are interested in this new, interactive space and are asking to be featured on the ZimOut hotline. With the added revenue, Tina decides to upgrade to a 4-sim card OfficeRoute; she keeps two lines open for the ZimOut hotline, keeping advertising to a minimum so as not to turn-off callers with longer and more expensive menus. She then offers the two other lines to post classifieds and to promote events for a fee.

ZimOut has now become the most popular entertainment magazine in Harare, using its print and online editions to run interesting features and reviews while running their Freedom Fone hotline as both an advertising and informative entertainment space.

Resources needed


  • 2 computers, one used as a server, one for other normal office work including updating the website and creating the audio content
  • 1-SIM MobiGater
  • 4-SIM cards OfficeRoute
  • SIM cards

Staff and Competencies

  • Proficiency in audio editing and content creation
  • During the first weeks, Tina was doing everything on her own. Soon she had to hire a staff member who could run the Freedom Fone service and their website while she concentrated on advertising and the print edition.

Advertising costs

  • None! Remember Tina advertises the phone number in her own magazine and got a few spots for free thanks to Joe.

Role of Freedom Fone

  • Targeting wider audiences
  • Creating an information-on-demand service to compliment other media
  • Creating advertising revenue