Rob Katz

MTN VillagePhone

In Uganda, incumbent telecom MTN has now registered its 2000th entrepreneur in the Village Phone project. MTN’s partnership with the Grameen Foundation and local microfinance institutions gives entrepreneurs access to start-up capital ($230) which includes a car battery or solar power panel, a wireless handset, a usermanual and a fixed line dedicated simcard that can be loaded with theprepaid airtime.

Entrepreneurs sell airtime, for profit, in their villages – providing a previously unavailable service and creating an income stream at the same time. The Grameen Foundation web site features some of the entrepreneurs’ stories. An excerpt:”As with most other village phone operators, there is no electricity inher village, so she uses an automobile battery to recharge her phone.The nearest public pay phone is over 4km away from her business. Beforereceiving her Village Phone, the shelves in her small shop were baredue to lack of capital to invest in goods for resale. She has sinceused the money earned from her Village Phone to stock her shelves andher store is now a focal point for her small community.”