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Karen Smit

Principal Specialist: Specific Needs at Vodacom

Profile

Vodacom

I am extremely passionate about DIVERSITY & INCLUSION and my purpose is to influence organizations and to advocate for the digital inclusion of minority segments such as disabled and elderly consumer segments.

I head up the Specific Needs Division at Vodacom South Africa for the past 9 years and my main role is to design, implement and lead the Accessibility Strategy for the these consumer segments in South Africa. My expertise is also being used by The Vodafone Group (UK Head Office) to guide them to have discussions and share ideas of accessible products within the Vodacom Group globally.

I have 18 years telecommunications experience working at Vodacom and have worked in various roles such as billing systems, customer care, human resources and commercial product development.  I was responsible to launch the very first big button keypad phone for the elderly in South Africa in 2009.

My qualifications include a Master’s Degree in (Industrial) Social Work from the University of Stellenbosch.  I have an intimate understanding of the disabled consumer market and extremely good relationships with the disability sector and government departments such as the Regulator and Dept of Telecommunications.

Giving Back

I founded an initiative for disabled girls in 2014 called WAND (Women’s Achievement Network for Disability). We are a group of disabled business women who have overcome adversity (and still do) and are now giving back to disadvantaged communities. This we do by hosting an Empowerment Workshop for disabled teenage learners at Artscape Theatre Centre during Women’s month.  The aim of the workshop is to provide a platform for the girls to unlock their voices; hence empowering them to embark on a journey of self-acceptance and personal development.