Bank members have entered the age of information technology by
leasing and purchasing cellular phones. They receive special loans
from the Bank to purchase of cell phones. Those who have begun
to operate such phones are now popularly known as the village
phone ladies. By the end of 2002, there were more than twenty-one
thousand village phone loanees who have together taken loans amounting
to Tk. 321.13 million. Average loan size is about Tk. 15,000.
During the year nearly 13,000 new loans were distributed and connections
provided to as many cell phones in the villages.
Tele-density in Bangladesh is very low. Telephone services are
not available in most of villages of the country. Demand for telephone
services operated by the village phone ladies is, therefore, very
high. Grameen Bank in collaboration with Grameen
Telecom, a not-for-profit company, will lease finance
nearly 23,000 new phones to its members during the next year.