Connecting the Rural Poor to the World: Grameen’s Village Phone in Bangladesh

by: Ted London

Publication Date: February 13, 2007
Length: 22 pages
Product ID#: 1-428-608

Core Disciplines: Base of the Pyramid, Information - Technology & Management, Leadership/Organizational Behavior, Strategy & Management

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Teaching Note

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Grameen Telecom’s Village Phone is a program that is focused on bringing cellular service to people in rural villages in Bangladesh. In 2006, Grameen’s Village Phone initiative had an installed base of more than 233,000 village phones across 50,000 villages in the country, and annual revenues of approximately US$93 million. This case explores opportunities both within Bangladesh and beyond the country’s borders to expand the Village Phone program.

Teaching Objectives

After reading and discussing the material, students should:

  • Analyze the advantages and limitations of globalization (global trade) from the perspective of those at the base of the pyramid (BoP) and explore the pros and cons of grant-based and market-based approaches to poverty alleviation.
  • Assess the business opportunities and potential poverty alleviation outcomes of a venture (Village Phone) that is serving the poor.
  • Understand the core principles of Grameen's poverty alleviation approach and compare it to traditional donor-funded aid programs.
  • Assess whether Grameen Phone fits the definition of a base of the pyramid (BoP) venture.