Village Phone is a microfranchise approach that allows virtually any microfinance institution (MFI) or other organization to directly and independently develop a Village Phone product for their clients.
Microfinance clients can then take out a loan to purchase a Village Phone kit through their microfinance institution, or other organization, which will be repaid with proceeds from the business. These grassroots entrepreneurs, Village Phone Operators, then rent the use of the phone on a per-call basis providing both affordable telecommunications access in their community while earning enough to repay their loan and raise their level of income. Once they have paid back the loan, the Village Phone business kit is theirs to keep and to continue their business.
In many countries, telecommunications companies have not defined a public access strategy for rural markets. In this case, Village Phone allows an MFI, or other organization, to bring mobile communication services and new business opportunities to communities that may have been overlooked by traditional telecommunications access. Village Phone benefits all parties involved:- Village Phone Operators are given a unique opportunity to earn a new source of income that can complement an existing business. In addition, many of the Village Phone Operators are female, helping to increase the status of women in the community.- Community members no longer have to travel to make a phone call and can stay in touch with family and friends and increase their productivity.- The microfinance institution, or other organization providing loans for the Village Phone business kit, gains revenue from loan interest and potentially from airtime sales and helps set into place a network of phones that can be used as a platform for future innovation.- Finally, the telecom operator is able to reach a new market through a channel not previously utilized.
Over the past decade, the mobile phone has become a powerful tool for providing poor people with access to information and services that can improve their lives and their livelihoods. Since 2002, Grameen Foundation has focused on expanding telecommunications services to poor people in remote areas and creating business opportunities for micro-entrepreneurs. Today, we are also developing new ways to use mobile phones and other technology to benefit the world’s poor.
Launched in 2003 in Uganda, Grameen Foundation’s Village Phone program builds on the pioneering work of Grameen Telecom in Bangladesh, which has created new economic opportunities for more than 362,000 Village Phone Operators to date. Since our program’s inception, we have worked with technology and development stakeholders around the globe to expand Village Phone services in multiple countries. We have partnered with local microfinance institutions and non-governmental organization; technology companies such as Qualcomm and Nokia; and telecommunications providers such as MTN in Uganda, Rwanda, and Cameroon and Bakrie Telecom in Indonesia. To date, we have helped to create more than 25,000 Village Phone micro-franchises in Africa and Asia, through direct technical assistance, partnerships, and advisory services.
Publicly available: yes
Countries where available: Worldwide
Price range (USD): Contact supplier for quote
Offered or can be licensed for local manufacture: Yes
If you are aware of any updates to the Village Phone project please complete the form or send an email to [email protected]