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Thursday, December 07, 2006

ICT Empowerment Network makes a debut

Intercontinental collaboration of partners to support empowerment through Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and micro-credit financing for the poor, has made a debut.

The framework to be known as ICT Empowerment Network is a partnership between Grameen Bank, International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Cisco Systems, Qualcomm and latest consortium, Enclusion.

The network is part of the partners support to the Connect the World Initiative of ITU.

Managing Director of Grameen Bank and Nobel Prize laureate, Prof. Muhammad Yunus, disclosed this at a session at the on-going ITU-organised Telecom World 2006 in Hong Kong.
Prof. Yunus noted that there is need to urge the international community into action, hence the network and expressed gratitude to ITU for facilitating the dream.

"This is just the beginning of an exciting, new, open collaboration and I encourage others to join us in this global effort," he said.

He explained that the network represents the first concrete area of collaboration flowing from a broader agreement signed by Professor Yunus and out-going ITU Secretary-General, Yoshio Utsumi, earlier on Monday this week.

He stressed that this agreement opens the door to broader cooperation between the two organizations, with the aim of combining Grameen's micro-credit expertise with ITU's experience in implementing ICT development programmes and partnerships.

Emphasising that ICT Empowerment Network seeks to implement the vision outlined by Prof. Yunus when he received the ITU World Information Society Award on 17 May 2006.

During his acceptance speech, Prof. Yunus invited global ICT companies to take part in a worldwide effort in combining their strengths to support ICTs with micro-credit financing to assist the poor in earning sustainable incomes.

He pointed out that in order to ensure the success of the initiative, Grameen would reach out to more than 3,000 micro-finance organizations and 100 million borrowers globally, while ITU will use the support and participation of its 191 member states and some 650 private sector members from around the world.

"This is a truly powerful partnership that will yield benefits for years to come," ITU Secretary-General, Yoshio Utsumi noted following the signing of the agreement.

"From the moment we heard him speak last May, the entire ITU team was motivated to work with Grameen to help make Professor Yunus' vision of empowering the underprivileged with ICTs and micro-credit a reality," he added.

ITU further said that the network would consist of numerous independent, self-financed groups of partners that collaborate either in physical centres or virtually.

Each group will focus on at least one of three work streams, namely, ICT solutions, sustainable business models, and capacity building.

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