> Things like Grameen Bank's micro loans are a very extropic tool for
> encouraging enterprise in the Third World. I wonder if there are other
> innovative tools like micro loans. Grameen's cellular telephone company,
> that focusses on putting just one cell phone into a village as a start, is
> the kind of thing I think we should look for as programs to highlight as
> extropic solutions to Third World problems: It is said that villages in
> Bangladesh that have gotten a phone through this program now get better
> prices for the cash crops they are able to raise because they are able to
> check market prices in the city and not be at the mercy of middle-men with
> better knowledge.
There was a woman in Wired who was selling voice mailboxes in Africa. She was able to give people a permanent phone number for something like $5 a month. A dozen people would go in on a phone number together, making it affordable. I believe they got a pager that told them when they had voicemail, as well.
She wasn't doing it for charity - she wanted to make money.
Unfortunately, I can't quite remember her name or the name of the company (Adisia? Adimi?). But mail me off the list if you really want to know - I can find out.
One of the things I have heard several times from Peace Corps volunteers is that it is hard to get people to change. You can bring in an innovation, and at first everyone gets interested in it, as everything novel is interesting for a while. But ultimately, it usually gets dropped completely.
Perhaps this is a problem with the "charity work" mindset versus the "grubbing capitalist" mindset, as these stories have usually had to do with new kinds of crops or ovens or that sort of thing, while from everything I've read, everyone in the world loves television.