Scottish museum showcases Grameen Bank's village phone initiative | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 22, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, July 22, 2016

Scottish museum showcases Grameen Bank's village phone initiative

Grameen Bank's Village Phone programme, which had given rural people the access to mobile phone service two decades ago, has earned a spot at a prestigious museum in Scotland. 

The National Museum of Scotland located in the city of Edinburgh opened 10 new galleries in 2016 and one of them is on “Telephone Lady” of Bangladesh, Yunus Centre said in a statement. 

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The exhibition was officially launched on July 8. The museum reached out to Grameen Telecom in February, 2015 with their interest in Village Phone, according to the statement.

Grameen Telecom sent case studies, newsletters, guide book and a range of equipment that were used by a Telephone Lady during 1997 to 2000 to operate her phone business.

Grameen Telecom launched its programme—Village Phone—on March 26, 1997 with a vision to bridge the technological gap between urban and rural Bangladesh through affordable mobile technology.

The programme was designed only for Grameen Bank borrowers.

Back in 1997, mobile telephone was not affordable in the rural areas of Bangladesh. With extensive success in microcredit programme with the rural poor, Grameen Bank founder Prof Muhammad Yunus came up with an idea to make available at least one phone in one village.

The Village Phone programme was introduced as a unique tool to alleviate poverty with entrepreneurship skills of Grameen Bank female members.

The selected members known as “Telephone Lady” used it as a commercial pay phone for the community.

Village Phone had only 24 subscribers during its launch. As of June 2016, the programme has a total of 17.07 lakh subscribers in Bangladesh.

“It is remarkable that, in 1997, when the cell phone was still a technological novelty the world over, Grameen Telecom successfully initiated the use of this tool for empowering the rural poor,” World Bank said in a study.

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