DOT-COM Activity: Uganda - Village Phone Uganda (VPU) Project
Short Description: Partnering with Grameen Foundation-USA (GF-USA), and the Mobile Telephone Network (MTN) Uganda, this pilot village phone project in Uganda will stimulate widespread access to affordable information and communications technologies in rural Uganda and enable poor women to establish sustainable ICT-based enterprises.
Phase/Type of Activity: Pilot Status: Completed
Start date: June 30, 2003 End Date: May 01, 2004
Partners: Grameen Foundation USA
Person(s) to contact
Michael Tetelman , Director, dot-ORG
Academy for Educational Development
Tel: (202) 884-8856
Full Description: dot-ORG is partnering with Grameen Foundation-USA (GF-USA), and the Mobile Telephone Network (MTN) Uganda to implement a pilot village phone project in Uganda in order to stimulate widespread access to affordable information and communications technologies in rural Uganda and enable poor women to establish sustainable ICT-based enterprises. This innovative approach is modeled on the successful Grameen Village Phone program in Bangladesh, whereby Grameen Telecom provided loans to Bangladeshi women entrepreneurs to purchase and operate cellular telephones so these entrepreneurs could resell cellular services to local residents.
The VPU project is working with Uganda micro-finance institutions (MFIs) to select and train up to 3,000 Uganda village phone operators in underserved rural communities over a three year period. A separate for-profit Ugandan organization has been created under the VPU Project to manage the overall program, train microfinance staff, develop new strategic partnerships, provide training to women entrepreneurs, etc.
The VPU project is being carried out in two phases. The first, pilot phase will operate in one or two rural communities in Uganda on a limited scale to test and refine the strategy and approach for working with local MFIs and poor Ugandan women. After the pilot phase, it is anticipated that the VPU project will be expanded into other Ugandan communities and that the number of participating women will be increased significantly.
Update 1 (as of June 2004):
To strengthen the impact of the project, a women-owned firm, Making Cents, has implemented a weeklong train-the trainers program in business management for the MFIs. The customized training focuses on the specifics for these female entrepreneurs of marketing and managing cellular phone businesses in Uganda.
Update 2 (July-Sept. 2004):
The Grameen VPU project continues to expand its impact and scope. For example, as of September 2004, 1,000 village phone businesses have been established. The project was also recently featured in USAIDs Frontlines magazine. Final Update December 2004:
At the end of December, a total of 1326 Village Phone businesses had been deployed. Average minutes sold has dropped to 17 minutes per day primarily due to competitive pricing pressures in some markets. See the December 2004 quarterly update.
Development Sector(s): Agriculture Markets and Trade, Outreach and Training, Enterprise Development, Microenterprise Development, Participant Training, Workforce Development, Global Partnerships, Women in Development
ICT Intervention(s): Cellular Phones, ICT and Women, LAN/network infrastructure, Technical Training, Telephony
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