Following the success of its ‘Grameen Village Phone Programme in Bangladesh’ project, US-based Grameen Foundation USA has teamed up with MTN Uganda to launch a similar initiative to benefit rural users without access to communications. MTN villagePhone hopes to roll out telephony services to impoverished communities by giving local inhabitants the opportunity to become the community’s local phone operator. Through ‘micro-loans’ – low-cost loans of around USD230 to be repaid over the period of up to twelve months – operators will be able to use MTN-supplied cellphone equipment to set up a business, providing communications services for people starved of such services. Yvonne Muthien of MTN Group says the programme will ‘alleviate poverty and empower rural Ugandans and …be instrumental in increasing local economic activity and business opportunities through the creation of entrepreneurs and small enterprises’. The partnership hopes to set up over 500 new mini enterprises and help boost rural teledensity from its current low figure of between 2% and 3%.