Applying the Bangladesh Village Phone Program to Uganda in support of Women Entrepreneurs

The Academy for Educational Development/dot-ORG, Mobile Telephone Network (MTN) Uganda, a network of microfinance institutions, and the Grameen Technology Center along with its other investors, are partnering to launch Village Phone Uganda (VPU).

The objective of the Village Phone project is to increase access to information and communication services in the impoverished rural villages and to generate new economic opportunity by seeding the creation of phone businesses to be owned by micro-entrepreneurs.

Bangladesh to Uganda
The Ugandan project is modeled on the successful Grameen Village Phone program in Bangladesh, where Grameen Telecom provided loans to Bangladeshi women entrepreneurs to purchase and operate cellular telephones so these entrepreneurs could resell cellular services to local residents.

In Bangladesh, evaluations of the model have revealed an increase in the status and income of the Bangladeshi operators and a significant increase in the number of women who use telephones in the villages.

In Uganda, the project will work with Ugandan micro-finance institutions (MFIs) to select and train as many as 3,000 Ugandan Village Phone operators in underserved rural communities over a three year period. A separate for-profit Ugandan organization will be created under the VPU project to manage the program, train MFI staff, develop new strategic partnerships, and provide training and support to the micro-entrepreneurs.

The pilot phase will operate in one or two rural communities within Uganda on a limited scale to test and refine the strategy and approach for working with local MFIs and the women they reach with micro-credit. After the initial pilot phase, it is anticipated that the VPU project will be expanded into other Ugandan communities and that the number of women participating will increase significantly.

The Grameen Technology Center, which is an initiative of Grameen Foundation USA, provides project management and funding. MTN will provide overall communications infrastructure, donation of office space for the project office, customer service, and bulk prepaid phone card sales to the MFIs. The MFIs will develop special credit programs for the women, supply credit, finance services, and training to the participants. dot-ORG is designing the training program for the entrepreneurs, giving technical assistance in project design, and developing a monitoring and evaluation plan.

David Keogh of the Grameen Technology Center, a future Village Phone Operator and Abser Kamal who brings his experience as a senior manager of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. Photo courtesy of Grameen Technology Center. AED/dot-ORG and Grameen Foundation-USA signed a collaborative agreement on May 5th, 2003 for a period of three years. AED's support to this program is funded by USAID/EGAT/EIT/IT under the dot-ORG Leader Award No.GDG-A-00-01-00014-00.

For More Information, Contact:
Michael Tetelman
Acting Director, dot-ORG
Academy for Educational Development
Tel: 202 884 8856

David Keogh
Sr. Technical Program Manager, Village Phone Uganda (VPU) project
Grameen Foundation USA
Tel: +1 206 325-6690 x203

Tim Wood
Sr. Technical Program Manager, Village Phone Uganda (VPU) project
Grameen Foundation USA
Tel: +1 206 325-6690

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Core funding for the DOT-COM Alliance is provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Bureau for Economic Growth, Agriculture & Trade, Office of Infrastructure and Engineering (EGAT/OI&E), Office of Education (EGAT/ED), and Office of Women in Development (EGAT/WID), under the terms of Award numbers: GDG-A-00-01-00009-00, dot-GOV; GDG-A-00-01-00014-00, dot-ORG; GDG-A-00-01-00011-00, dot-EDU.
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