GrameenPhone of Bangladesh

Helping the Poor, Phone by Phone in the New York Times:

At the end of last year, Mr. Quadir showed how third-world ventures can be profitable %u2014 and provide a useful service %u2014 when GrameenPhone, the cellphone company he founded in Bangladesh, made $27 million in pretax profits. It turned that profit after just five years — far sooner than many first-world start-ups.

To Mr. Quadir, the two approaches are not mutually exclusive. He says the poor will improve their own health as they become richer, and he sees cellphones as tools of production, not consumption.

The same thinking also applies to computers. We need to get 100 million computers in India, not the 6-odd million which exist today. Like what GrameenPhone has done, the innovation has to be in the way we think of ownership and financing.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.