In August 1997 Grameen Communications (GC) came into existence as a not for profit organization under the Companies Act of Bangladesh 1994. Its vision is to serve the underprivileged population by means of information and communications technology (ICT) in two ways:
- Assist and facilitate those who work for poverty alleviation. For example, GC supplies MIS software to MFIs to provide them with timely information in a cost effective, secure and user-friendly way.
- Provide information technology (ICT) services directly to the rural disadvantaged. In bridging the digital divide and making information available to everyone, GC aims to produce positive economic benefits for people living in rural Bangladesh and hopefully beyond.
The increased focus on institutional efficiency and staff productivity in recent years has led MFIs to seek computerized and automated software solutions to their management information system (MIS) needs. CASHPOR members have followed a number of options in this regard, including off the shelf products and tailored solutions, with varying degrees of success. Two CASHPOR
The Micro-Banking Systems: Specialized IT Applications for MFIs
The need for an integrated and automated management information system (MIS) software for micro-finance institutions (MFIs) was felt since the inception of Grameen Bank. At the operational level, there was demand for a system that could take over the numerous and detailed work of portfolio tracking, system monitoring, accounting, reporting and other aspects of an MFI's MIS. GC's first task was to design and develop such a system to support Grameen Bank's operations and to create the information technology infrastructure for the Bank. Today, of the 1178 branches of Grameen Bank, 936 or 80% of branches are automated. Moreover, 500 of them are paperless.
GC has since customized the system for use by Ahon Sa Hirap (ASHI), Inc. in the Philippines and CFTS is India. It is now about to embark on the computerization of Moris Rasik in Timor Leste.
In addition to providing MIS to MFIs, GC has also developed systems to support other Grameen Bank activities. These include systems to track staff loans and housing loans for Grameen Uddog, a loan management program for Grameen Trust, as well as a pond database management system for Grameen Motsho (Fisheries) Foundation.
members-- CFTS in India and ASHI in the Philippines - have benefited greatly from work done by Grameen Communications (GC) of Bangladesh.
The ICT Project
The aim of the ICT project is to deliver information technology services to rural communities, which in the past were not available to them. So far three Digital Centers have been set up in Bangladesh
Village Computer and Internet Program (VCIP), Modhupur
The goal of the Village Computer and Internet Program (VCIP) is to provide multipurpose information services for isolated regions to promote poverty alleviation, thereby reducing migration from villages to cities, creating IT related job opportunities for the rural poor, and creating familiarity with computers among the rural population of Bangladesh.
Grameen Digital Center(GDC) Mirzapur
The local population of Mirzapur now enjoys 24 hours online facility offered by VCIP, Mirzapur, at a minimum cost. The project is connected to the web through GC's own VSAT located at the head office. The site office is about 45 km away and is linked by radio connection to the web via the VSAT gateway.
Grameen Digital Center (GDC) Tele Healthcare, Chittagong
A Tele Healthcare center is already in operation at Chittagong, offering health services with a minimum service charge. The health services include: i) providing information on diseases, treatment & associated cost: ii) online doctor's consultancy: and iii) local, national and international medical information.
The services to be derived from the ICT project include:
Training Course on Computer
Word Processing and Printing
Computer Lab Facilities
Seminar and Workshop
It may still be early days, but wide ranging impact on socio-economic development can be expected. For example, readily available information makes rural populations more aware of market trends and therefore enables them to respond with greater flexibility and be more competitive. The social fabric of communities is strengthened through greater accessibility to communications. Training and increased job opportunities leads to reduction of migration to cities and social problems, particularly among the young.
GC's Resources & Infrastructure
The company possesses highly qualified professionals in related disciplines including Project Management, IT Consulting, System Analysis and Design, Programming, Internet Service Provision, and Training. The competent and experienced team of programmers is equipped to handle any customization requirements, or further development to suit individual requirements.
The software team possesses knowledge and proven hands-on experience with the following tools:
Language: Visual Basic 6.0 C/C ++ ASP, HTML Java Script, Perl, PHP, Assembly Language.
RDBMS: SQL server, Oracle 8i, Access 7.0 My SQL.
Networking: Windows NT: Microsoft Windows 2000 advanced server, Windows 98/9, DOS.
Grameen Communications believes access to information flow on real time basis is one of the most important elements to become customer oriented. Connected to the Internet through its own VSAT 24 hours a day, with an available bandwidth of 64kbps, GC wants to be by its customer's side whenever they are in need.
For further information please contact:
Grameen Bank Bhaban (9th Floor)
Mirpur-2, Dhaka-1216, Bangladesh
Report by Nazneen Sultana