The Grameen village phone ladies are slowly going out of business but Davos discussion still refers on the same model.
Last week Mr. Gates called on the executives of the largest corporations to add social entrepreneurship to their agenda, a leopard-spot-altering exercise at best. However, in challenging his compatriots, one of the experiments he overlooked was Mr. Yunus’s stunning success at Grameen Phone in Bangladesh, an effort he has pioneered during the past decade in partnership with Telenor, a Norwegian wireless carrier.
Intended as an experiment to extend wireless communications networks to the world’s poorest people, the program has become a remarkable success on multiple levels. Not only did it create a class of “phone ladies” who brought wealth into village communities, it has grown quickly enough and been profitable enough that Mr. Yunus said this week in Davos that Telenor had decided to break its original promise to his organization and refused to turn over control to allow the program to be run on a not-for-profit basis.
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