Dhaka, March 23 (bdnews24.com) — Grameen Bank’s Muhammad Yunus stunned the world by unveiling a poverty alleviation initiative using mobile phone on March 26, 1997.
He buys bulk minutes from Grameenphone’s GSM mobile network and resells among the microcredit borrowers in Bangladesh.
The industry now recognises such business model as Mobile Virtual Network Operator or MVNO. Yunus and Grameen shared the Nobel Peace Price in 2006.
Ten years later on March 21, 2007, another Nobel Peace laureate, the Amnesty International’s USA chapter, unveiled similar high-tech philanthropic initiative called “Amnesty Wireless”.
This MVNO is a joint venture between Amnesty International and Working Asset. It buys bulk airtime from the Sprint CDMA network and resells mobile phone services among Amnesty Wireless customers at competitive rates.
Ten percent of revenues from every call go to Amnesty’s human rights fund without charging extra to the consumers. That means whenever Amnesty Wireless customers dial, they help free prisoners of conscience, end capital punishment and support rights for women around the world.
“Cell phones have made the world more mobile. Now there’s a cell phone that makes the world more free,” said Working Assets CEO Laura Scher.
“Both our organisations believe that universal recognition of universal human rights is an attainable goal. And with an effective, convenient service like Amnesty Wireless, it’s now more attainable than ever.”
“Our members want to do all they can to support human rights,” said Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA. “But they’re also busy people. Amnesty Wireless makes it easier for them to make a difference every day.”
Amnesty Wireless members who want to do even more can find in each month’s bill the Citizen Action alerts containing urgent human-rights issues that need their support.
They can choose to send a well-argued letter to a targeted decision-maker. Or make a call from their cell phone and speak out for their beliefs.
Members can make up to 30 minutes of such calls each month — absolutely free. The Amnesty Wireless customers also pay nothing while calling within the network.
New customers monthly pay $29.99 and gets an LG225 camera phone, 200 minutes of free talk time, unlimited nights and weekends, voicemail, an earpiece, a car charger and free home delivery without activation fees.
Amnesty Wireless will even buy out subscribers’ current cell-phone subscriptions with up to a $175 credit.