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The Impact of the Grameen Bank Mobile Phone Programme on the Lives and Housing of Rural Women in Bangladesh

An evaluation of the use of mobile phone technology in the context of rural development, assessing the overall impact of the Village Pay Phone Programme on the lives of rural women in Bangladesh.

The aim of this study is to evaluate the overall impact of the Village Pay Phone Programme on poor rural women in the context of rural development.

With only 3 landline phones for every 1,000 people in Bangladesh, it has one of the lowest phone penetration rates in the world. The Village Pay Phone Programme was developed by combining the Grameen Bank’s expertise in micro-enterprise and micro-credit with the latest digital wireless technology. Bangladesh is believed to be the first developing country in which a micro-credit institution has relied on cellular technology to make a telephone service abundantly available.

Questionnaire surveys, case studies and focus groups have been used to develop an understanding of the impact of mobile phones on the lives and housing conditions of the 24,000 Grameen Bank borrowers who are running village mobile telephone businesses.

A telephone in a village does not just ensure voice communication from village to village, but rather it can be treated as an important tool for development. The scheme to create a rural communications network by equipping one woman in each village with a cell phone is the most imaginative of several efforts to address one of the world’s most basic technology gaps.

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