Sellout Saturday: For Charity

by Johnny Debacle

So I was clicking on our banner for the Grameen Foundation, because it’s a great cause and I like to check it out every couple weeks, and when I clicked through, I saw a woman, probably a very poor one, holding up a phone right at me and I couldn’t figure out why. I looked closer at her phone and realized it was NICER than my phone.

I’m not sure if this a reason to be bullish on Grameen as way to reduce global poverty through microfinance or more of case for Shorting JD because his phone sucks and is out of date. There is probably even a case to be made about the sorry state of domestic wireless options compared to the rest of the world, thanks to lack of competition, regulation and the Great Satan.

Either way, she’s really rubbing it in my face.

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  1. March 7th, 2006 | 10:14 am

    Dear Mr. Debacle,

    Thank you for your interest in the Village Phone product. Marie-Claire‘s Village Phone cost approximately $200, which included the phone, a prepaid airtime card, an external antenna, equipment to charge the phone, signage to advertise the phone, and other marketing collateral. Network services are provided by MTN.

    She purchased this kit with a microfinance loan, which she paid off in five months with profits from selling airtime to her fellow villagers. If you are a resident of Uganda or Rwanda, and you are among the poorest of the poor there, you may also qualify for this financing.

    Marie-Claire has done well in business. She now makes almost $50 per month from her phone; the average annual income in Rwanda is $230.


    Ken Liffiton
    Grameen Foundation USA

  2. March 7th, 2006 | 10:33 am

    I’m more focused on how her phone is better than mine! 😉

    But that’s great to hear. Thanks Ken.