Points of discussion
Women have built trust via a long term relationship with GB. Hence women are chosen based on their prior relationship with GB.
MKJ: Gender patterns do emerge from the fact that GB’s best customers are women.
AZ: Groups of VPOs “monitor” each others repayments within a village since if one person doesn’t repay on time it reflects badly on the rest of the VPOs in that village
Mahinda: even in the Suntel-Ceylinco-Gramin scheme most of the credit-worthy customers are women.
Since the cost structures were not available, we cannot say if the handset discounts and airtime discounts, etc. constitute subsidies
Mahinda: what does the final consumer pay?
AZ: it varies from location to location, since the VPO decides how to cost each telephone call from the user?
RS: A map of BP’s coverage overlaid on top of the railway line map over time would give a good indication of the access to the fiber network has helped expand coverage.
Success was determined by the fact that GP access to infrastructure but also by the fact that they were able to piggy back on GB. That window of opportunity was only available to GT at that time.
RS: Why didn’t Suntel utilize a similar model and not establish similar relationships with communications shops?
Mahinda: Its hard to recover payments from communication bureaus. Individual customers are better at repayment.
DG: are there other ways to identify credit worthy individuals without using the microfinance system as has been used in Bangladesh? For example, Suntel can work with a banks that has a network of branches in the rural areas to identify customers who have repayed their loans.
MKJ: Social capital i.e. shared values is what sustains such a business model like Grameen. The question is if we strip microfinance would this be viable.
RS: With regards to Suntel what are the bad-debt customers like:
Mahinda: While ’s bad-debt rate is high when compared to developed countries. Even with developing countries are bad debt rate is high since we don’t utilize too many coercive measures to force customers to pay. As for the classes of bad-debt users: generally Consumer default rate is high. However in terms of numbers, business are the highest bad-debt user class followed by communication bureaus.
RS: GP pushes down the credit-worthiness problem to Grameen Bank. Similarly Suntel has pushed it to Ceylinco. Hence for success, credit-worthiness needs to be dealt with by somebody.
DS: Why don’t companies in build links with Banks suggest that linkages be built up in with Banks. However as RS points out then it begs the question, how many people in actually use banks. In the case of this is figure is low.
RS: What microfinance does is to allow people without established credit-worthiness to start.
Mahinda: Tritel buys bulk from Suntel and takes the risk out for Suntel allowing Suntel to bring down bad-debt from 14% to below 5%.
Mahinda: at present levels of technological development, CDMA is cheaper than GSM,
RS: There are significant economies of scale in telecom. What was Grameen’s roll out like? When Grammen found that they couldn’t negotiate interconnection, they compensated by driving up the number of subscribers in the network. Because of fiber and brand name they were available to rollout quickly.
RS final thoughts: It might be good to have another section on credit-worthiness and then another section on rollout. Fit of structure and problem, i.e. this may be good model for countries which have similar regulatory regimes to and with similar teledensity. It seems that fiber was very important for Grameen’s rollout since it helped bring their capex down. The brand name goodwill value of Grameen is extremely valuable for everything that Grameen does in . And actually Grameen is becoming a monopoly: it is used to be the case that Grameen couldn’t get interconnection when they started, but now they are not willing to give interconnection to others.