Yunus Centre Press Release
A visitor at the Village Phone display at the National Museum of Scotland
Dhaka, 21 July 2016
National Museum of Scotland located in the city of Edinburg, Scotland has opened ten new galleries in 2016 and one of them is on “Telephone Lady” of Bangladesh. The exhibition was officially launched on July 08, 2016 under the Science and Technology gallery.
National Museum of Scotland reached out to Grameen Telecom in February, 2015 with their interest in Village Phone. Grameen Telecom sent case studies, newsletters, guide book and a range of equipments that was being used by a Telephone Lady during 1997 to 2000 to operate her phone business. The display includes Nokia handset, GSM Tester and a Signboard Stand.
Grameen Telecom launched its fascinating program, Village Phone on March 26, 1997, with a vision to bridge the technological gap between urban and rural Bangladesh through affordable mobile technology. This program was uniquely designed only for Grameen Bank borrowers. This is recognized the Museum as a significant breakthrough in technology to be recognized by the Technology Museum.
Back in 1997 mobile telephone was a product of luxury in context or urban areas of Bangladesh and was a fairytale for rural areas due to its limited availability and high price. With extensive success in microcredit program with rural poor, Professor Muhammad came up with an idea o set up at least one phone in one village to serve the necessary demand of telephone services.
Village Phone was also introduced as a unique tool to alleviate poverty with entrepreneurship skills of Grameen Bank female members. The selected member, knows as “Telephone Lady” would use it as a commercial pay phone for the community.
Village Phone program launched with only 24 subscribers in 199 and by the end of June 2016. The program has a total of 1, 707, 138 subscribers in Bangladesh.
Caption: National Museum of Scotland
Caption: Display of Village Phone at the National Museum of Scotland.