Village Phone – A Tool for Empowerment

This paper notes that in a increasingly interconnected world, the ability to efficiently access and share information can have dramatic implications for social and economic development. As worldwide demand for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) services grows, so does the potential for these services to improve the lives of the poor.

Grameen Telecom of Bangladesh began the Village Phone concept in 1997 with the launch of Grameen Phone. Grameen Bank clients were provided with loans for the purchase of a digital System Mobile (GSM) phone to launch there own public phone business. The operators use the phone to provide telephone services to other residents of their community. Ninety-nine percent of the operators are women.

The Village Phone acts as a tool for networking and information exchange providing modern digital wireless telecommunication services to some of the poorest people in the world. The paper suggests that in rural areas where isolation and poor infrastructure are often the norm, telecommunications can play an extremely important role in enhancing rural social and economic development.

This paper aims to examine how microfinance can serve as a platform for the provision of ICTs to the rural poor. It considers how a successful microfinance project, such as Village Phone, can increase women’s empowerment and welfare. In addition, it aims to reflect on the connections between women’s empowerment and the HIV/AIDS pandemic, exploring the ways the microfinance sector can help to alleviate the burdens associated with the disease and decrease women’s vulnerability to infection. The paper draws from research on and experience from Village phone programs in Bangladesh, Uganda and Rwanda.

  • Resource type
  • Author Stanley, R
  • Organisation
  • Year of Publication2005
  • Region
  • LanguageEnglish
  • Number of pages9 pp.
  • EditionGrameen Foundation Publication Series

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