Village Phones Print
village_phone01.jpgThe concept of Village Phone is an idea which caught people’s imagination. Grameen Bank members have entered the age of information technology by leasing and purchasing cellular phones. The mobile phones not only create a new business opportunity for the poor, but also bring access to information, market, health and other services to the remote rural areas of Bangladesh. This was a major innovation; placing modern cell phones in the hand of the woman from poorest households in remote villages, something that no telecom operator had dared to do in the past. With Grameen Bank financing a Grameen Bank borrower buys a mobile phone to become the Telephone Lady of the village. She provides the telecommunication services to the village while earning profits for herself. By the end of 2008, there were about three hundred fifty-four thousand village phone ladies who have together taken loans amounting to BDT 2.57 billion.

The demand of the Village Phone services is increasing day by day. During the year 2008 nearly 58,500 new phones were distributed and connections were provided to as many cell phones in the villages. Grameen Bank, in collaboration with Grameen Telecom (The company which was incorporated as a not-for-profit venture under the companies act of 1994) has made a plan to finance nearly 50,000 new phones to its members during the next year.

village_phone02.jpgThe additional income by selling telephone service and internet based facility through electronic recharge system of village phone ladies is almost double that of the national per capita income. Zone-wise statistics of village phones financed through the Bank’s lending programme are given the following.
Zone No of Branches Covered No of Village Phones
owned by Bank members
Chittagong 70 6,142
Tangail 78 7,909
Rangpur 56 7,131
Manikganj 60 11,055
Patuakhali 85 6,938
Bogra 64 9,044
Sylhet 70 12,675
Rajshahi 85 24,874
Dinajpur 63 12,126
Faridpur 85 10,330
Comilla 74 9,638
Mymensingh 53 11,511
Munshiganj 60 8,761
Khulna 69 8,386
Noakhali 78 12,289
Jamalpur 54 8,122
Nilphamari 53 5,442
Hobiganj 54 7,366
Pabna 60 11,045
Barisal 80 5,532
Jhenaidah 74 10,211
Cox’s Bazar 57 6,040
Gaibandha 54 11,121
Noagaon 77 15,160
Jessore 79 9,631
Chandpur 54 7,797
Kishoreganj 74 6,674
Bhola 52 2,392
Rangamati 27 2,201
Gazipur 46 7,423
Madaripur 67 17,484
Thakurgaon 69 12,874
Pirojpur 61 4,083
Sunamganj 55 5,221
Feni 46 6,641
Narsingdi 38 7,487
Kurigram 46 4,455
Netrokona 44 5,413
Sirajganj 45 8,973
Sherpur 49 6,312
Total 2,465 353,909

Flexiload program

village_phone03.jpgFlexiload programme started from April 2006 in Tangail and Comilla zone as a ROSA (Retailer outlet sales agent) pilot project. The agreement between Grameen Bank (GB) and Grameenphone (GP) was to sell handset, accessories and bulk airtime in rural areas through GB members. The programme is still now successfully going on.

Finally, the agreement was set up on November 06, 2006 to expand the programme in other zones. In this programme, Grameenphone is the principal or host and Grameen Bank acts reload distributor functioning perfectly through a master SIM card.

Selected GB members are the sales agents who get load from Grameenphone reload system under GB channel. GB agents transfer their load as per end users demand. It is continuous process. GB’s commission is 0.95% and sales agent’s commission is 2.75% respectively. Up to December 31, 2008 GB creates 1,000 sales agents in 39 zones, which transected averagely BDT 362.00 million per year. Grameen Bank and agents received commissions amounting BDT 3.57 and 10.00 million respectively. Now every week Grameen Bank agents are transacting BDT 9.00 million. Grameen bank plan is to make 2,000 Grameen Bank agents very soon. We hope this programme will develop and reinforce strategies, which will bring high economic benefits to Grameen Bank members.
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