Ethan Arpi

Craig’s List for Emerging Economies

bangladeshEmeka Okafor from the blog, Timbuktu Chronicles, recently wrote about an extraordinary service in Bangladesh, which promises to provide significant benefits to the BOP.? GrameenPhone Ltd., Bangledesh’s largest cellular provider, has announced a partnership with MIT-based CellBazaar to produce a virtual marketplace, a la Craig’s List, that uses cell phones instead of computers.? As The New Nation, a newspaper in Bangladesh, reports, ?The system is designed to be as simple as possible: it will not handle transactions, but will simply put buyers and sellers in contact with each other via mobile phone. It will be possible to access the system using just text messages.?? The CEO of CellBazaar, Kamal Quadir, told The New Nation that the service is ?a phone-based equivalent of newspaper classified advertisements. If somebody wants to sell a bicycle, for example, they can list it in CellBazaar, where it will be visible to potential buyers.?

In Bangladesh, which boasts 11.6 million cell phone users, such a service has the potential to radically transform the way business is conducted.? Here’s how: Allowing buyer and seller to interact directly cuts out the middle man, guaranteeing that the seller gets a fair, market value price for his goods.? It also links together people who would otherwise not be in contact, creating business networks that encourage growth and expansion.