Iqbal Quadir started a mobile phone operator connecting 80 million rural Bangladeshi and encouraging bottom-up development. He saw that foreign aid empowers local authorities and marginalizes citizens. Instead, he believed that connectivity can increase productivity, helping to fight poverty.
Iqba believes that “economic development is of the people, by the people, for the people. And that is the real network effect. If citizens can network and make themselves more organized and productive, so that their voices are heard, so then things would improve.”
Inspired by this he created a company called Gonofone, which in Bengali means “people’s phone,” subsequently creating GrameenPhone. At the time of Iqbal’s presentation at this TED Conference, there were about 115,000 people who were retailing these telephone services in their neighborhoods in 52,000 villages and reaching about 80 million people.
You can watch Iqba’s full presentation here: