Innovative Business Model Design: connecting the previously disconnected

"Solutions come by connecting disconnected things where you suddenly have realized a connection". This is a quote from Iqbal Quadir that perfectly applies to business model design. In this quote he refers to his idea of combining micro-credit lending to the rural poor in Bangladesh with providing (shared) mobile phone services. While many thought he was crazy to offer mobile telephony to the poor in Bangladesh's villages, his success has proved otherwise.

Iqbal realized that if a woman could be given a micro-credit to buy a cow and sell milk then the same could be done for phone services. Born was GrameenPhone. Together with Telenor he bought a mobile license and set up a mobile phone network. Then he partnered with Grameen Bank, an established micro-credit institution. The bank offered women in villages a credit to buy mobile phones, which they used to sell phone calls to the villagers, repay their debts and make a daily living. Grameen Bank expanded its lending and GrameenPhone harvested a network of women reselling phone calls through their network.

So what's the beauty of it all? The elements where there: micro-credit lending, mobile phone licences and the need of people to communicate. What was missing was the connector and implementor. What was needed was the one person that would be able to see how the elements could fit together in an innovative and successfull business model design. Iqbal Quadir, a great guy whom I have came across several times, has these qualities. And, oh, not to forget: GrameenPhone is based on a whole lot of entrepreneurial risk taking and tough implementation...