Grameen Foundation today announced its inaugural Village Phone Grant Competition which will provide $10,000 each to up to two organizations to launch Village Phone programs. The competition is open to microfinance institutions and other non-profit organizations and is being run through Grameen Foundation's Village Phone Assistance Center Web site. In addition to the $10,000 grant, the recipients will also receive technical assistance from the Grameen Foundation Village Phone team and support in developing program materials. To participate, organizations should submit their proposals via e-mail to email@example.com by August 24, 2008.
Those selected to move on to the next round must submit their final applications by September 30. The competition guidelines are available on the Assistance Center Web site.
"Seed financing is often a large obstacle for organizations who wish to start their own Village Phone program," said Peter Bladin, senior vice president and executive director of Grameen Foundation's Technology Center. "With that in mind, we created this grant competition for organizations committed to implementing Village Phone as it is an important, proven method for increasing telecommunications services in poor communities."
Launched in 2007, the Village Phone Assistance Center guides MFIs and other organizations in developing Village Phone products that provide poor communities around the world with affordable and reliable phone access and cell phone business opportunities. One critical resource is the Village Phone Direct Manual, first published in 2007 in collaboration with the International Telecommunications Union. The English-language version has been downloaded more than 1,400 times, and it is now available in four additional languages: Arabic, Chinese, French and Spanish.
Along with the newly translated versions of the manual, the Village Phone Assistance Center Web site has been re-designed to include a blog for the Village Phone community and vital information on upcoming Village Phone Training. The next Village Phone Trainings will be offered in English and French in Kigali, Rwanda. The English language training will be held September 29-October 3, 2008 and the French language training will take place October 6-9, 2008. For more information on the training options or to register for a workshop, click here.
Grameen Foundation's Village Phone initiatives build on the pioneering work of Grameen Telecom in Bangladesh. Since 2003, Grameen Foundation has launched Village Phone programs in Uganda and Rwanda and assisted with programs in Cambodia, Haiti and the Philippines.