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You Can Hear Me Now: How Microloans and Cell Phones are Connecting the World's Poor to the Global Economy Hardcover – February 2, 2007

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Until recently, the outlook for many of the poorest people in Bangladesh was dismal. Despite previous long-term aid from the international community to improve the country's infrastructure and economy, sustainable development was hampered by corruption and governmental inefficiency. This book tells the story of Western-trained entrepreneur Iqbal Quadir, the driving force behind the creation of GrameenPhone, the largest Bangladeshi GSM (Global System for Mobile) cell-phone operation. Quadir had the innovative idea of using local Western-trained entrepreneurs to help villagers attain micro-loans funded by foreign investors (and generated by Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yanus) and then showing villagers how to operate cell-phone leasing businesses. Sullivan refers to this successful business model as the "external combustion engine" because of its impressive multiplier effects on economic growth. Applications of this model in other poverty-stricken areas worldwide have repeatedly yielded similar results. This book offers valuable insights about the use of cell phones and technology-based investments to generate wealth and demonstrates that entrepreneurship may be more fruitful than aid. This valuable work can be effectively integrated into public administration, global business, and human resource academic courses.
—Caroline Geck, Kean Univ. Lib., Union, NJ (Library Journal, February 2007) 

"…describes an inclusive capitalism that engages and enables many of the three billion people living on $1 a day" (Credit Control, June 2007)

Review

"Grameen Bank has an impact on the poor, GrameenPhone on the entire economy."
—Muhammad Yunus,winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize

"You Can Hear Me Now is a powerful proof of the roles that the private sector can play in economic development. Sullivan, by picking one industry—wireless—and cleverly weaving the economics and the growth of the industry with the human dimension, provides a distinctively new perspective on what is possible. A must-read for all those who are concerned about eradicating poverty. Equally, a must-read for managers who are looking for new engines of growth."
—C.K. Prahalad, Paul and Ruth McCracken Distinguished University Professor, The Ross School of Business, the University of Michigan; author, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid

"With the growing interest in how business can better serve the 'bottom of the pyramid' there is great need for both practical examples of how to do it and better understanding of how such strategies can truly benefit those caught in the poverty trap. This book delivers on both counts."
—Stuart L. Hart, S.C. Johnson Chair of Sustainable Global Enterprise, Cornell University; author, Capitalism at the Crossroads

"You Can Hear Me Now describes the human drama of the poor adopting technology to enhance their productivity. Well-researched and engaging, it expertly walks the reader through one surprising maze after another."
—V. Kasturi Rangan, Malcolm P. McNair Professor of Marketing, Harvard Business School; coauthor, Business Solutions for the Global Poor

"The stories of GrameenPhone in Bangladesh, legendary in development capital circles, and Celtel in Africa, among others, read as colorfully as any of the stories of the Gold Rush in the U.S. in the 1840s. Nicholas Sullivan has recounted the struggle and subsequent success in an easy-to-read but factual manner that shows risks countered by perseverance and guts—proving that you can do well by doing good."
—Alan Patricof, co-founder, Apax Partners and founder, Greycroft Partners

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (February 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0787986097
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787986094
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,203,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Thomas Duff HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on February 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
To the typical American (and other developed nation citizens), the cell phone has become part of the normal fabric of life. Communication with anyone at any time from anywhere is just expected. But in countries like Bangladesh, only a very small number of people have access to any type of telephone communication. The book You Can Hear Me Now: How Microloans and Cell Phones are Connecting the World's Poor to the Global Economy by Nicholas P. Sullivan does an excellent job of showing how something as simple as the cell phone can break the cycle of poverty and aid for millions of people.

Contents:

Part 1 - The GrameenPhone Story: Connectivity Is Productivity; Dish-Wallahs of Delhi (and Other Early Models); Cell Phone as Cow - A New Paradigm in Search of Investors; On The Money Trail in Scandinavia; Building a Company; Building a Network

Part 2 - Transformation Through Technology: Wildfile at the Bottom of the Pyramid; Cell Phone as Wallet; Wealth Creation and Rural Income Opportunities; Beyond Phones - In Search of a New "Cow"; Eyeing the Dhaka Stock Exchange

Epilogue; Notes; Resources; Index

The book is split into two parts. The first part covers the story of GrameenPhone's launch in Bangladesh, and the second part is more of a look at the forces behind using technology at the "bottom of the pyramid" (the vast number of people who globally live at poverty level) to connect them to the world's trade economy. Iqbal Quadir was a Bangladeshi who studied and worked in the US and was doing quite well. But he was also concerned about the massive levels of poverty in his home country. Once day he was standing on the street and had an epiphany about communication equaling productivity.
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It's a good book, though the author's ringing endorsement of the Grameen Bank/Phone concept is an interesting one, considering that if you go to Bangladesh (which I have, twice) at least 60% of people will say that they hate Grameen Bank for its involvement in corruption (even government ministers say this) and Phone for its extortionate rates (they ARE the most expensive in the country.

I didn't feel that the author represented both sides on this issue fairly, but still learned a lot reading it. Hence the 4 stars.
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Format: Hardcover
It is a story about a man with a vision to empower the poor in Bangladesh (one of the 50 poorest countries in the world according to many global economic reports). Iqbal Quadir had faith in his strategy and the intelligence to lay it in ways to get investment from Grameen Bank and other powerful investors, who may have once been reluctant. If you already have grassroots business ideas, this book is not only an inspiration but it also loosely illustrates the challenges in BOP markets.
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Format: Hardcover
You Can Hear Me Now will interest a wide variety of readers. On a personal level, the story of Iqbal Quadir, who at age 36, single-handedly coordinated the effort to bring cellular phone service to one of the poorest countries in our world, is an inspriration. Moving beyond the completion of his college studies in America and entering the workforce, Quadir had not forgotten the struggles of the rural poor of his homeland, Bangladesh. Iqbal Quadir's story is one of creativity, passion, and perseverance not only for a project, but for a people. Beyond the book, the story grows. Readers can expect Mr. Quadir will continue to work toward the alleviation of poverty in Bangladesh through continued efforts with new projects.

As an academic book, readers will discover a revolutionary economist in Quadir. He has used traditional economic theories to develop, solidify, and test his own. He is a noted original thinker and a man of action. "Connectivity is productivity" is Quadir's cry. He is changing the world's view of the risk of investment in developing countries. He is a victor of the race to end poverty.

Mr. Sullivan's well-written references to and explanations of economic concepts are clearly written and easy to understand. This book is a must-read for all students of economics, business, and entrepreneurship. If instructors do not require the book, students should be delving into the material on their free time.

Globally, the impact of Quadir's work in Bangladesh has rippled throughout the developing world with his economic practices and business models duplicated successfully. Iqbal Quadir's story brings hope for a better future for millions of people, and personally, his actions inspire me to question what role I play.
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Excellent case for capitalism shown as ALL investors were repaid in great magnitude for their risking venture capital funds in a country with only 50,000 phones. The local government is making great sums of money from taxes on use of phones, but levy's a high tax on the cost of the individual phone, thereby promoting smuggling. There should be a VERY VERY low, if any tax on the phone, but reap the benefits of taxing the phones usage. The complete book dilutes the great success of the phone project, but I was made aware of the book by a late night C span 2 review.
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