You Can Hear Me Now: How Microloans and Cell Phones are Connecting the World's Poor to the Global Ec

ISBN: 0787986097

Category: Study


Posted on 2007-07-06. By anonymous.

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pic info: 2007-05-21/1_258_orig
You Can Hear Me Now: How Microloans and Cell Phones are Connecting the World's Poor to the Global Economy
Nicholas P. Sullivan | Jossey-Bass | ISBN 0787986097 | 2007-02-02 | 272 pages| PDF | 1.8 Mb
Bangladeshi villagers sharing cell phones helped build what is now a thriving company with more than $200 million in annual profits. But what is the lesson for the rest of the world This is a question author Nicholas P. Sullivan addresses in his tale of a new kind of entrepreneur, Iqbal Quadir, the visionary and catalyst behind the creation of GrameenPhone in Bangladesh.

GrameenPhone—a partnership between Norway's Telenor and Grameen Bank, co-winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize—defines a new approach to building business opportunities in the developing world. You Can Hear Me Now offers a compelling account of what Sullivan calls the "external combustion engine"—a combination of forces that is sparking economic growth and lifting people out of poverty in countries long dominated by aid-dependent governments. The "engine" comprises three forces: information technology, imported by native entrepreneurs trained in the West, backed by foreign investors.

Review:

Wonderful example of thinking outside our cultural constraints...

To the typical American (and other developed nation citizens), the cell phone has become part of the normal fabric of life. Communication with anyone at any time from anywhere is just expected. But in countries like Bangladesh, only a very small number of people have access to any type of telephone communication. The book You Can Hear Me Now: How Microloans and Cell Phones are Connecting the World's Poor to the Global Economy by Nicholas P. Sullivan does an excellent job of showing how something as simple as the cell phone can break the cycle of poverty and aid for millions of people.

Contents:
Part 1 - The GrameenPhone Story: Connectivity Is Productivity; Dish-Wallahs of Delhi (and Other Early Models); Cell Phone as Cow - A New Paradigm in Search of Investors; On The Money Trail in Scandinavia; Building a Company; Building a Network
Part 2 - Transformation Through Technology: Wildfile at the Bottom of the Pyramid; Cell Phone as Wallet; Wealth Creation and Rural Income Opportunities; Beyond Phones - In Search of a New "Cow"; Eyeing the Dhaka Stock Exchange
Epilogue; Notes; Resources; Index

The book is split into two parts. The first part covers the story of GrameenPhone's launch in Bangladesh, and the second part is more of a look at the forces behind using technology at the "bottom of the pyramid" (the vast number of people who globally live at poverty level) to connect them to the world's trade economy. Iqbal Quadir was a Bangladeshi who studied and worked in the US and was doing quite well. But he was also concerned about the massive levels of poverty in his home country. Once day he was standing on the street and had an epiphany about communication equaling productivity. His people worked hard, but they had no way to reliably communicate with others except by face to face meetings. All that wasted time meant there was untapped potential just waiting to be utilized. He started talking with Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank (originator of microloan programs) to see how communication technology could be rolled out to the entire country, making a phone available to anyone near a village. Without government aids and grants, Quadir put together a consortium of foreign investors and Grameen Bank to build GrameenPhone, a life-altering company. Using a fiber-optic line already laid next to the country's rail line, they were able to place cell towers in areas to cover all the rural areas of Bangladesh. Then using microloans from Grameen Bank, "phone ladies" could buy a cell phone for the village, offer the phone service, and sell the time in small increments. The cell phone gave a business to the village, in addition to creating subsidiary jobs and opportunities with the communication that was enabled by having phone service throughout the country. It's this use of technology that's advocated in the second part of the book as an example of how business opportunities can remove the grip of poverty from nations and lead to living wages instead of handouts.

You Can Hear Me Now is an inspirational book with plenty of lessons for those who are willing to look outside the normal constraints of what we consider business opportunities.

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