Village Phone Direct: A Microfranchise Opportunity
You may be interested in this article. Grameen bank, that runs micro-finance organisations has just launched a new variant of their Village Phone business opportunity, called Village Phone Direct. It's for any small, local Micro-Finance organisation to set up village entrepreneurs with their own Village Phone service, providing a public phone service to all the people in a village.
Their previous idea was for Grameen Bank to form partnerships with large Mobile Phone Companies, to let individual entrepreneurs out in rural villages offer a mobile phone service via a single phone to all the villagers. Grameen/MTN provide all the training materials, like a 'business in a box'. The entrepreneur has a phone and, if neccessary, a rooftop single-direction antenna that can reach up to 25KM to the nearest mobile-phone mast.
This new Village Phone Direct service is much easier to get started, because any small micro-finance organization can do it. There's no need to go through long and complex negotiations to set up partnerships between Grameen Bank and a Phone Company, or for each entrepreneur to be accepted/rejected by the phone company.
Grameen provide all the training materials to the micro-finance organisation directly. They have a website to download it all.
It would suit villages with no phones at all, or where just one or two people own phones, but they're not shared with the other villagers at the moment.
Since the design of the business is under local control, the village entrepreneur could buy a GPRS phone at a slightly higher cost and offer voice calls, SMS and limited internet access on the phone handset to read/write emails or read/write Yahoo Group messages.
When the service is well-established in a village, the GPRS phone could link to Includers or other computers/PDAs by USB cable, so people could read/write messages on their own computer device and use a single shared GPRS phone to send/receive them. This saves everyone having to buy their own phone. They also benefit from the 25KM link.
So, do any of you know areas where it could be used or micro-finance organisations that would be interested?