Iqbal Quadir is an advocate of business as a humanitarian tool. With GrameenPhone, he brought the first commercial telecom services to poor areas of Bangladesh. His latest project will help rural entrepreneurs build power plants.

Why you should listen

As a kid in rural Bangladesh in 1971, Iqbal Quadir had to walk half a day to another village to find the doctor -- who was not there. Twenty years later he felt the same frustration while working at a New York bank, using diskettes to share information during a computer network breakdown. His epiphany: In both cases, "connectivity is productivity." Had he been able to call the doctor, it would have saved him hours of walking for nothing.

Partnering with microcredit pioneer GrameenBank, in 1997 Quadir established GrameenPhone, a wireless operator now offering phone services to 80 million rural Bangladeshi. It's become the model for a bottom-up, tech-empowered approach to development. "Phones have a triple impact," Quadir says. "They provide business opportunities; connect the village to the world; and generate over time a culture of entrepreneurship, which is crucial for any economic development."

What others say

“GrameenPhone has increased the country’s GDP by a far greater amount than repeated infusions of foreign aid.” — The New Nation

Iqbal Quadir’s TED talk

More news and ideas from Iqbal Quadir


Mobiles fight poverty: Iqbal Quadir on

August 12, 2009

While the media team is on holiday, we continue to bring you some of TED’s oldies but goodies. During the two week break, we will post noteworthy talks that contain ideas still worth spreading. Today we travel back to 2005 for Iqbal Quadir’s talk on how mobiles fight poverty. Iqbal Quadir explains his digression from […]

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