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Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is selling SIM cards for charity

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jimmy wales (flickr)
jimmy wales (flickr)

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is taking on a new endeavor, serving as chairman for a new UK-based wireless carrier called The People's Operator. Operational since 2012, the carrier donates ten percent of every phone bill to a charity of the user's choice, as well as setting aside a quarter of profits towards corporate-directed causes. The hope is that Wales' skills at mobilizing online communities will help the service grow. "I get pitched a lot of things, and most of them are either very idealistic but don't have a workable plan, or they have a workable plan but they're not that interesting or inspirational," Wales told The Verge. "This is the first thing I've seen that's really inspirational but also has a perfectly sensible business model."

The service is a virtual network, so all the coverage involved is leased from larger carriers like Orange and O2, but Wales thinks the bloated marketing budgets of most telecoms will give The People's Operator an edge. "People are spending huge sums of money for customer acquisition and awareness," Wales told The Verge. "If we can divert that marketing spend and say, instead of spending that money on TV commercials, we're going to spend it on donating to good causes, and persuade our user base to spread the company's offering through word of mouth, that's a workable business model." At the moment, TPO only operates within the UK, but plans to expand to other countries as its user base grows.