village phone program

Grameen Village Phone Ladies: Unplanned Obsolescence After A Window of Opportunity?

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Sep 19, 2007

Grameen Foundation's Village Phone program has long been touted as the poster child for using mobiles in the economic empowerment of poor women. The program gives villagers in Bangladesh-- and now in several other countries -- access to microcredit to buy a mobile phone that can then be rented to other villagers who do not have a mobile of their own.

Much has been written about Village Phones in the media and in research reports, often describing in glowing terms the economic impact and gain in social status that the women in the program have achieved. Yet, most of these studies are fairly old at this point, predating the exponential growth of mobiles around the world.

Now questions are being raised in some mainstream media about whether renting out minutes on mobile phones is economically beneficial to the so-called village phone operators -- at a time when mobiles have become so much more ubiquitous, even in remote rural areas.

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Village Phone Program in Uganda

Posted by CorinneRamey on Dec 06, 2007

Mobile phone businesses are transforming families and villages in Uganda, writes Tatum Anderson of the BBC. The article profiles Joseph Ssesanga, a 24-year-old entrepreneur who started a mobile call center in his family's home.

The business began as part of a loan from a microfinance institution, and has grown into a company that operates in six villages and employs other phone operators. Ssesanga even bikes around the village offering the phone service to his neighbors. He says that the family is much better off financially, and can now afford to pay costs like school fees.

The family business now operates in six villages, employs phone operators and even provides a phone-charging service for those with their own handsets. They were able to repay the loan in four months, and today can afford to pay school fees. "We were farmers, but seasons are a major problem. We grow vegetables, but sometimes they can be damaged and you lose everything," he said to the BBC.