Report on Corporate Social Responsibilities of GrameenPhone

Executive Summery:

This report is prepared as a mandatory requirement for BUS 101 (Introduction to Business) at BangladeshUniversity of Business & Technology. The report is named ‘Corporate Social Responsibilities of  GrameenPhone Ltd.’.

GrameenPhone Ltd. is the leading multinational company in telecommunication service sector of Bangladesh. GrameenPhone Ltd. started its operation eight years ago. They were operating in the market for a long time. They gained success from the very beginning of their operation and were capable enough to hold the success year after year. The strongest side of GrameenPhone is its Human Resource Management and its relationship with their employee. Almost each part of the country connected and it turned out to be a big hit. GrameenPhone Ltd. has a dual purpose to receive an economic return on its investments and to contribute for the economic development of Bangladesh where telecommunication can play a vital role.

 Objectives of grameenphone:

Grameen Phone’s basic strategy is coverage of both urban and rural areas. The Company has devised its strategies so that it earns healthy returns for its shareholders and at the same time, contributes to genuine development of the country. In short, it pursues a dual strategy of good business and good development.

Serving the mass market is one of GP’s primary goals. By serving the public as opposed to niche markets, the Company plans to achieve economies of scale and healthy profits. At the same time, service to the public means connectivity to a wider population and general economic development of the country. In contrast to the “island” strategy followed by some companies, which involves connecting isolated islands of urban coverage through transmission links, GrameenPhone builds continuous coverage, cell after cell. While the intensity of coverage may vary from area to area depending on market conditions, the basic strategy of cell-to-cell coverage is applied throughout Grameen Phone’s network. In addition, GP has positioned itself to capitalize on the declining prices of handsets, making its goal to serve the public realistic.

About Grameen Phone

GrameenPhone (GP) has been established to provide high-quality GSM cellular service at affordable prices. GrameenPhone has a dual purpose:

To receive an economic return on its investment

To contribute to the economic development of Bangladesh where telecommunications can play a critical role.

  Historical Background:

GrameenPhone was offered a cellular license in Bangladesh by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications on November 28, 1996. The Company launched its service on March 26, 1997, the Independence Day of Bangladesh.

In 1996, Bangladesh was preparing to auction off private cell phone licenses to four companies. So at the behest of Dr. Muhammad Yunus (Grameen Bank’s founder) but completely independent of Grameen Bank, a not-for-profit private company called Grameen Telecom was created. Grameen Telecom, in turn, created a for-profit company called Grameen Phone, found a foreign partner, and put in a bid; Grameen Phone received one of the four licenses. Grameen Phone’s total capitalization was US$120,000,000, including around US$50 million from IFC/CDC, and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). It also received US$60 million in equity from the four Grameen Phone private partners. These were the Norwegian Telenor with a 51% share, Marubeni of Japan with a 9.5% share, and the American Gonophone at 4.5%. Grameen Phone’s fourth partner is Grameen Telecom (with 35%), and Grameen Telecom borrowed US$10.6 million from the Open Society Institute to set up Village Phone.

Grameen Phone launched service in urban Dhaka on March 26, 1997. It makes its profits by serving wealthier urban customers. But from the point of view of the Grameen family and its strong anti-poverty mission, the for-profit, urban-only Grameen Phone exists for only one reason: To fund, with its profits, the extension of cell phones into rural Bangladesh in order to provide entrepreneurial opportunity to Grameen Bank members through Village Phone. As Dr. Yunus puts it, “Grameen Phone is merely what we need to do Grameen Telecom’s Village Phone.”

  Founding Partners of GrameenPhone:

GrameenPhone is a joint venture company comprising of:

  1. Telenor – A state-owned telecommunication company from Norway. It has a long history of successful cooperation with other operators in Russia, Hungary, Montenegro, Ireland, Bangladesh, Greece, Germany, Germany, Australia, Malaysia etc.
  2. Grameen Telecom – A sister concern of Grameen Bank. It was established by Grameen Bank to organize and assist those Grameen bank borrowers who wish to retail telephone services in the rural areas.
  3. Marubeni Corporation – A leading investment and trading company from Japan.

4.   Gonofone Development Corporation – A New York-based telecom company Invested in many companies in USA, Russia and other parts of Europe.

These four companies own shares of GrameenPhone in the following manner:

CompanyPercentage of share (%)

Telenor

51.0
Grameen Telecom35.0
Marubeni Corporation9.5
Gonofone4.5

Share holders of GrameenPhone Ltd

Vision, mission & Strategies of GrameenPhone

Company vision:

“To be the leading provider of telecom services all over Bangladesh with satisfied customers, shareholders and enthusiastic employees”.

      Company mission:

Grameen Phone Ltd. aims at providing reliable, widespread, convenient mobile and cost effective telephone services to the people in Bangladesh irrespective of where they live. Such services will also help Bangladesh keep pace with other countries including those in South Africa region and reduce her existing disparity in telecom services between urban and rural areas.

   Company strategy:

Grameen Phone’s basic strategy is coverage of both urban and rural areas. In contrast to the “island” strategy followed by some companies, which involves connecting isolated islands of urban coverage through transmission links. GrameenPhone builds continuous coverage, cell after cell. While the intensity of coverage may vary from area to area depending on market conditions, the basic strategy of cell-to-cell coverage is applied throughout Grameen Phone’s network.

    Company Service:

GrameenPhone believes in service, a service that leads to good business and good development. Telephony helps people work together, raising their productivity. This gain in productivity is development, which in turn enables them to afford a telephone service, generating a good business. Thus, development and business go together.

  Service for the rural people:

Establishing a nation wide network gives fair access to all geographical areas. From a business point of view, this strategy serves both the long distances as well as the rural markets. This emphasis on rural coverage brings a much-needed infrastructure in the underdeveloped rural areas. In collaboration with Grameen Bank, which provides micro-credit only to the rural poor, GP utilizes the bank borrowers to retail telecom services in the rural areas. Leveraging on Grameen Bank borrowers reduces the distribution costs of Grameen Phone’s rural services, contributing to the profitability of this segment.

By bringing electronic connectivity to rural Bangladesh, GrameenPhone is bringing the digital revolution to the doorsteps of the rural poor and unconnected.

Village Phone Program:

The Village Phone program is Grameen Phone’s unique method of bringing connectivity to the rural areas of Bangladesh. This program enables Grameen Bank’s borrowers to retail telephone service in their respective villages, and has the potential to penetrate the rural areas rapidly and effectively.

A typical Grameen Bank borrower takes a loan of Tk 6000 without collateral from the Bank to purchase, say, a cow. The cow would then produce milk that the borrower could sell to her neighbors enabling her to make a living and pay off the loan. The process allows the poorest of the poor to stand up on their feet. In the case of Village Phone, a telephone also acts as an income generating mechanism for a borrower; a telephone serves as another “cow.” A woman borrows about Tk 20,000 from the Bank and purchases a handset and sell telephone services to the villagers, making a living and thus paying off her loan. It creates a self-employment opportunity in each village and provides access to telephones to all.

The Village Phone Program has grown very rapidly around the country in 2003. These Village Phones are operating in nearly 68,000 villages of some 61 Districts.

Grameen Telecom, Grameen Bank’s arm for administering the Village Phone operators, typically selects women by considering past borrowing records with the Bank.

Their 45000 Village Phones in operation in some 34000 villages in Bangladesh today and soon thousands of Village Phones around the country is expected across rural Bangladesh.

  Subscriber

GrameenPhone has reached the 2 million subscribers in August 2004, marking a major milestone in the development of the country’s telecommunications sector. And GP is expecting to reach 24,00,000 subscribers by the end of  year 2004.     !!!!!!!      Obviously this would be a remarkable achievement indeed for any mobile operator in Bangladesh. The subscriber growth rate of GrameenPhone is as follows:

 Products of GrameenPhone:

The products of GrameenPhone can be characterized as:

Post Paid

 Pre-Paid

  • Ø Pre-paid 
Connection Current Price
Smile (mobile to mobile)  Tk – 450
  

Postpaid

Connection type

Current Price

xplore Postpaid (M2M, BTCL, NWD, ISD)

Tk 800

Facilities offered by the GP package

ProductMobile-mobile

ConnectionVoice MailText MailFlat RateGP-GP

Regularüüü GP-GP NationalüüüüEASY

Pre-paidüüüü

Market Environment:

Competition among the six mobile phone operators remained intense throughout the year. Promotional campaigns with attractive offers resulted in a substantial reduction of the average airtime tariff rates. According to a recent research conducted by an international organization, the average cost of using a mobile phone is the lowest in Bangladesh among the eight countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). This indicates that the existing mobile phone tariff in the country is perhaps the lowest in the world. The Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) required the registration of all new mobile phone subscribers from March 2006. And last year BTRC required the re-registration of all subscribers who purchased their subscriptions prior to February 28, 2006. The deadline for re-registration has now been fixed for May 31, 2008, following a number of extensions.

Having the largest subscriber-base, a substantial number of Grameenphone subscribers needed to be re-registered. After increasing the countrywide re-registration points and launching an advertisement campaign to inform the subscribers, initially the response was quite good but after some time the urgency to re-register began to decline among the subscribers who are required to do so. We have again taken up a renewed campaign to re-register the remaining Grameenphone subscribers within the deadline. This task will remain a major challenge up till the very end of the process.

Market Share:                                                     Grameen Market Analysis:

Market Data Analysis:

 Grameenphone 4ps Analysis

 

Products and Services Available for Sales

Pre-Paid

  • Smile (mobile to mobile)
  • Smile (PSTN)
  • djuice

Post Paid

  • xplore

Recharge

  • Flexi-Load
  • Scratch Card

Hardware

  • Genuine Handsets
  • GPRS and EDGE Modem
  • Accessories ( Charger, Battery etc)

Services

  • Public Phone Activation

Value Added Services:

  •  International Roaming
  •  EDGE
  •  Voice Mail Services
  •  Text Messages

Bill Payment

You can pay your post paid bill of any amount at any GrameenphoneCenter

Value Added Services:

Consumer can use their mobile phone for many other purposes than making voice calls. With GrameenPhone’s VAS, they can use their mobile phone to:

  • Send and receive text messages, picture messages, voice messages
  • Download ring tones, logos, wallpapers
  • Obtain news updates, cricket score updates
  • Browse the Internet and also send and receive e-mails
  • Transfer data and send fax
  • Participate in competitions and vote for your opinions

If we explain then we can see …………..

  1. SMS Push-Pull Services:

With Push-Pull service, you can enjoy more than 160 contents (Ex: Usage Info, Payment Status of last bill, Sports news, Emergency numbers, Restaurants, Airline and Railway timing, travel info etc.).

Wireless Application Protocol (WAP):

This is a tool to access WAP-enabled information from the Internet through GP mobile phones. You can also access your yahoo e-mail account through GP WAP service.

News Service (222):

This is a news broadcasting service jointly provided by Prothom Alo and The Daily Star. A subscriber can call 222 from his/her GP mobile phone and listen to the latest news highlights in English or Bengali.

Channel-I Program Schedule (2525):

2525 is a Channel -I Program schedule service. A subscriber can call this number from his/her GP mobile phone and listen to Channel I program (daily) highlights.

Channel-I GP Information Services (2626):

2626 is Channel -I and GP information service whereby a subscriber can avail information on news, events of the day, transport schedule and horoscope.

Event Based Sports Update (2002):

This is an event based Sports Update service. In respect to special sport’s events for Ex. international and national Cricket events, GrameenPhone updates the latest news, which can be accessed by dialing 2002.

Iftar and Sehri Timing (1515):

During the month of Ramadan, a subscriber can listen to the timing of Iftar and Sehri in Dhaka and adjacent areas.

 Messaging Services:

SMS:

Short Messaging Service is a convenient way of sending short messages at very low cost. One can send SMS to near and dear ones at any time and it will reach them in just a few seconds.

Tariff:

Product

Djuice

FnF

On-Net

Group

Off-Net

djuice

BDT 0.5

BDT 0.5

BDT 1.0

n/a

BDT 1.50

Smile prepaid

BDT 1.50

BDT 0.5

BDT 1.5

BDT 1.5

BDT 2.00

Xplore Package 1&2

BDT 1.50

BDT 0.5

BDT 1.5

n/a

BDT 2.00

International SMS:

You can even send SMS to more than 100 million GSM subscribers all over the world. It costs much less than making a call and it quite convenient to send.

Tariff: BDT 2.00 only

Voice SMS:

Voice SMS is a unique service which enables you to record a message or greeting and send it instantly. It is can be send only can only be sent to other GP numbers. It costs 2.50taka per minute and retrieve cost for Old Voice SMS is 1 taka

MMS:

Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) is an exciting way to share special moments such as birthdays, weddings and holiday pictures with your loved ones. You can even send pictures and video clips to e-mail addresses. Highest memory is 100 KB. And it cost 5.00 taka

EDGE:

Mobile Internet via EDGE, which is an advanced mobile technology, allows you to use your mobile phone to access the Internet, send and receive MMS, browse WAP and download files from different sites. Browsing charge is BDT 0.02 / kb for prepaid and for postpaid the monthly access fee is BDT 1,000.00  this MMS facility is only capable for onnet accessors.

Push – Pull Services

You can get information on updates of your bills; telephone number emergency ambulance, hospitals, blood banks, police stations, airlines, taxi service providers, news papers, public service providers, hotels, restaurants etc. (For details see GP Push-Pull Service leaflet). You can also get interesting jokes, horoscopes, greetings, cricket score etc (see to GP Push-Pull Service leaflet).

Voice-based Services:

All GP subscribers can have access to Voice-based services like News and other infotainment like recipe, quiz, etc.

Welcome Tune:

Now you can make your friends listen to their favorite song every time they call you. Get Welcome Tunes on your GP postpaid and prepaid phone.

Tariff:

Monthly Subscription Fee                  BDT 30.00

Downloading Each Tune                    BDT 15.00

IVR Charge  (4000 Voice port)           BDT 4.00 per minute

SMS Charge (4000 SMS port)             BDT 1.5 (djuice) and BDT 2.00 (Smile & Xplore)

Music Messaging (M4U – Music For You) / Song Dedication

M4U Song Dedication service was launched by Communication 2, a Content Provider to GP, on 17 May 2006.

Tariff: IVR Charge  (3355 Voice port)     BDT 6.00 per minute

Cell e-mail:

Send emails without a computer. With cell e-mail, you have the facilities to e-mail any GP number through an SMS and email any PC across the globe.

SMS plus:

Stay updated through SMS plus – the service allows you to update and receive information on daily sales (or any user defined updates) through SMS reporting.

SMS banking:

Enjoy hassle-free account updates from renowned banks like Standard Chartered Bank, BRAC Bank, Bank Asia, etc.

SMS information service:

When you can’t find the time to check up on the latest news, share market information, currency exchange status or directory information, our SMS information service can update you.

Mobile profiling:

Enhance your corporate profile by installing your company logo and corporate tune as ring-tone on all employee phones.

Balance Transfer:

 Transfer any amount between Tk. 50 and Tk. 200 from your

mobile to your  friend’s mobile.

 Visit any of the nearest GrameenPhone authorized scratch card retail outlets or points of sale displaying the FlexiLoad sign. Choose any amount between Tk.10 to Tk.10,000.

 Now with EDGE, you can have complete mobile access to the internet by using a laptop, electronic organizer, or hand-held (Palm Pilot, Psion) PDA. Browse HTML-pages, download files, read e-mail, and visit other Internet resources. You can also connect your handset to a PC and enjoy wireless hi-speed internet service. GrameenPhone brings you EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for Global Evolution), an advanced mobile technology which enables high-speed mobile Internet and data services. Up to 8 Times Faster Than GPRS Mobile Internet via EDGE, which is an advanced mobile technology, allows you to use your mobile phone to access the Internet, send and receive MMS, browse WAP and download files from different sites. Browsing charge is BDT 0.02 / kb for prepaid and for postpaid the monthly access fee is BDT 1,000.00. this MMS facility is only capable for onnet accessors.

Call Management Services:

 Call Conferencing:

You no longer have to limit your phone conversation to only one person. With call conferencing, you can talk to up to nine other people, simultaneously.

Call Barring:

Restrict different types of calls. You can choose to bar all incoming calls, all outgoing calls, or all international calls.

Call Forwarding:

Forward your incoming calls to any number when your mobile is off, unreachable or when you simply don’t want to be disturbed.

Call Waiting:

Your phone will never be busy and you will never miss a call again. You can keep maximum three callers on hold while making another call.

Logo:

How to download Logo:

Step 1 Go to the message (SMS) option of your mobile phone.

Step 2 Type the first three characters of your phone such as for Nokia write Nok.

Three characters of your phone is as follows:

NokiaNok SamsungSam
Sony EricssonSon SendoSen
SiemensSie AlcatelAlc
SagemSag DBtelDbt
LGLgh MotorolaMot

Step 3 Write the number of your desired Logo starting with L (e.g. nok LXXXX)

Step 4 Send the message to the given short code 2700.

Step 5 In return SMS you will receive the desired Logo.

Step 6 save the Logo.

Ringtone

 How to download Ringtone:

Step 1 Go to the message (SMS) option of your mobile phone.
Step 2 Type the first three characters of your phone such as for Nokia write Nok.
Step 3 Write the number of your desired Ringtone starting with R (e.g. nok RXXXX)
Step 4 Send the message to the given short code (2700, 3355, 2233, 3636, 2345 or 6624 )
Step 5 In return SMS you will receive the desired Ringtone.
Step 6 Save the Ringtone.

SMS Chat:

 Chat your heart out with djuice chat service.
Register your name by writing chat “xxxxx” (your preferred name) and send to 2233 through SMS and start chatting.

Dictionary:

 Words mean a lot if you are into SMS. Your djuice SIM now has a veritable pool of words to choose from. Get word meanings, synonyms and antonyms on your djuice mobile.

  • Just write dic followed by a space and the word (e.g., dic ‘word’) and SMS to 2233
  • Likewise, write syn ‘word’ to get the synonym of a word
  • Likewise, write ant ‘word’ to get antonym of a word

Beauty Tips:

 Dress up or dress subtle, beauty tips from the most prominent beauticians is just a finger tip away!

Write bea and send to 3333 and look special.

Music Top Chart:

 Be surrounded by music all the time. The latest billboard and MTV Indian charts are just an SMS away.

  • Write music eng and send to 2777 to get the latest billboard charts
  • Write music hin and send to 2777 to get the latest hindi top songs

Movie Chart:

  Movie mania is on. The latest movie top charts are just an SMS away.

Write top 5 eng and send to 3333 for top 5 English movies

  • Write top 5 hin and send to 3333 for top 5 Hindi movies

Xtra Khatir:

 Dear djuice friends! “Xtra Khatir” is now in your mobile set. so u don’t have to carry the Xtra card in the wallet anymore! go to any of our “xtra khatir” partners, write “Xtra” followed by a space & then the shop code, & u will receive an sms showing ur Xtra Khatir discount! ato shubidha aar kothay?

so now u will never miss any “xtra khatir” because u forgot to bring the xtra card! get all the attractive discounts, cool gifts, free tickets always just by sending an sms from the “xtra khatir” outlets! enjoy ur stay @ djuice duniya!

Customer service:

Our Customer managers are people just like your near and dear ones. They are caring brothers, caring mothers, caring sisters, caring fathers in their own families. Who better to serve with care than the ones closest to you?Our new Customer Service campaign is a tribute to close relationships and the care it entails. It is a celebration of the magic of the closeness that Grameenphone facilitates through its superior service. You, our valued subscriber, are a member of the family we care for everyday. Remember, customer service is always beside you with the people closest to your heart. Stay Close.As a valued subscriber of GP, you might require contacting us for any after sales service, service related queries and complaints. Kindly click on the following links for further details.

Comprehensive line of products and services

:

GP Smile Prepaid
  • Ø Target Market: Mass Consumers
  • Ø Product Type: Prepaid
  • Ø Offering competitive tariff, easy recharge and
  • Ø balance check facilities etc.
GP xplore Postpaid
  • Ø Target Market: High Income Mass and
  • Ø Professionals
  • Ø Product Type: Postpaid
  • Ø Offering competitive tariff with features such as unlimited internet, flat call tariff, easy bill payment facilities etc.
GP Business Solutions
  • Ø Target Market: Business
  • Ø Product Type: Postpaid & Prepaid
  • Ø Customized solutions for Corporations, SME and SOHO businesses Provides closed user group functionality, business messaging, Blackberry services, priority customer service etc.
GP Public Phone
  • Ø Target Market: Urban Low Income Segment
  • Ø Product Type: Prepaid for calling businesses
  • Ø Low tariff appealing to use the phone to generate businesses with bonus on usage
GP Village Phone
  • Ø Target Market: Rural
  • Ø Product Type: Prepaid for calling businesses
  • Ø Catered specifically to the rural subscribers togenerate income from phone business through subsidized tariff

Price

  • Ø Pre-paid 
Connection Current Price
Smile (mobile to mobile)  Tk – 450

Postpaid

Connection type

Current Price

xplore Postpaid (M2M, BTCL, NWD, ISD)

Tk 800

Coverage of Grameenphone Ltd:

GrameenPhone has the largest and fastest growing mobile network in Bangladesh. GrameenPhone aims to build a full range of service all over the country. GrameenPhone’s network is divided into six zones according to the divisional borders: Dhaka Zone, Chittagong Zone, Khulna Zone, Sylhet Zone, Rajshahi Zone and Barisal Zone. Currently GrameenPhone is operating in all six zones.

Promotion:

  • Ø Billboard advertisement of Grameenphone

In the telecommunication sector there are vast competition occurring so to live in the mobile market the company should take some promotional policy by which people will know about the product and service. The also have billboard advertisement which are given bellow

  • Ø TV advertisement
  • Ø Others

The Shareholders00:

The shareholders of Grameenphone contribute their unique, in-depth experience in both telecommunications and development. The international shareholder brings technological and business management expertise while the local shareholder provides a presence throughout Bangladesh and a deep understanding of its economy.

Both are dedicated to Bangladesh and its struggle for economic progress and have a deep commitment to Grameenphone and its mission to provide affordable telephony to the entire population of Bangladesh.

Risk factors:

It is important that Grameenphone and its operations take the necessary steps to manage and reduce risk factors, thereby ensuring that the overall risk is always kept within acceptable commercial limits. In 2006, Grameenphone created a dedicated Group Risk Management function.

Grameenphone activities are exposed to a number of commercial, operational, regulatory, legal, financial and political risks. If Grameenphone  growth strategy in emerging markets in Bangladesh as well as Asia is to be successful and inspire the necessary confidence among shareholders and investors, then risk assessments and risk management must form part of the Group’s core expertise. Work on this was stepped up in 2006 through the creation of a dedicated Group Risk Manager function in Grameenphone.

Proper risk assessments:

Risk factors are thoroughly assessed by Grameenphone  Board of Directors and its Group Executive Management in connection with new investments, and they are an ongoing consideration in relation to existing investments. Grameenphone has gradually acquired considerable practical experience in the establishment and operation of activities in economically less-developed areas. Combined with a broad network of contacts, including authorities at home and abroad, Grameenphone believes that this provides a sound basis for undertaking proper risk assessments.

The Group Executive Management has also carried out systematic reviews and evaluations of the Company’s investments in order to assess the development of individual activities in light of an updated risk scenario. Grameenphone Telenor is exposed to financial market risks related to changes in interest and exchange rates. Financial instruments are used to hedge against risks of this kind. The Group Executive Management has taken the necessary steps to maintain adequate financial flexibility.

Political Risk:

The value of Grameenphone  international operations and investments may be adversely affected by political, social, economic and legal developments in foreign countries.

Some of the countries in which Telenor has operations or in which we have made significant equity investments in telecommunications operators, have political, social, economic and legal systems that may at times be unpredictable. Political or economic upheaval or changes in laws or their application may harm the operations of the companies in which we have invested and impair the value of these investments to us. A significant risk of operating in emerging markets is that foreign exchange restrictions could be established. This could effectively prevent us from receiving profits from, or from selling our investments in, these countries.

Partner Risk:

Lack of control, or failure to increase our ownership and thus gain control, over companies in which we have minority interests, or disagreements with our principal shareholders in our international operations, may impede our strategic objectives.

As part of our strategy, we intend to expand our minority ownership interests in, and gain control of, some of our investments in order to exercise a controlling influence over key business decisions, including the approval of strategy and business plans. If we fail to increase our ownership interests and gain control, our cost savings and revenue enhancement from these operations may be limited. A failure to increase our ownership interest in our associated companies may limit our ability to influence key business or strategic decisions, particularly in situations in which we disagree with other principal shareholders. In addition, when our other principal shareholders in our international mobile operations fail to adequately support these companies, not participate or disagree with us over key corporate actions, such companies may not be able to compete or operate effectively and the value of our investments may be impaired.

Regulatory Risk:

We face increasing competition in the Bangladeshi telecommunications market which may result in further reductions in tariffs and loss of market share and could affect our future revenues and profitability. We continue to experience competition from competing service providers in the Bangladeshi market for telecommunications services.

Our corporate culture:

Internal and external rules and procedures provide Grameenphone with a sound platform for good corporate governance and for further development of a positive, responsible and healthy corporate culture. Grameenphone works systematically to install responsibility at all levels of the Group’s activities – a requirement to successfully achieve the Group’s goals of long-term value creation.

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development in its publication “Making Good Business Sense” by Lord Holme and Richard Watts, used the following definition. “Corporate Social Responsibility is the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large”

The same report gave some evidence of the different perceptions of what this should mean from a number of different societies across the world. Definitions as different as “CSR is about capacity building for sustainable livelihoods. It respects cultural differences and finds the business opportunities in building the skills of employees, the community and the government” from Ghana, through to “CSR is about business giving back to society” from the Phillipines.

For instance, the CSR definition used by Business for Social Responsibility is: “Operating a business in a manner that meets or exceeds the ethical, legal, commercial and public expectations that society has of business���.

On the other hand, the European Commission hedges its bets with two definitions wrapped into one: “A concept whereby companies decide voluntarily to contribute to a better society and a cleaner environment. A concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis”.

When you review each of these, they broadly agree that the definition now focuses on the impact of how you manage your core business. Some go further than others in prescribing how far companies go beyond managing their own impact into the terrain of acting specifically outside of that focus to make a contribution to the achievement of broader societal goals. It is a key difference, when many business leaders feel that their companies are ill equipped to pursue broaders societal goals, and activists argue that companies have no democratic legitimacy to take such roles. That particular debate will continue.

Our Social responsibilities:

Even a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step…” – Chinese proverb

At Grameenphone, we live by the statement “Development is a journey, not a destination.” Our work is not just about ensuring connectivity; it is about connecting with people and building relationships, based on trust, with our subscribers, business partners, employees, shareholders, as well as the wider community. We have always believed that good development is good business. While we maintain our business focus, taking the nation forward remains our top priority. Thus our relationship with Bangladesh is built on a partnership which strives to achieve common economic and social goals.

Corporate social responsibility, as we see it, is a ‘complementary’ combination of ethical and responsible corporate behavior, as well as a commitment towards generating greater good for the society by addressing the development needs of the country.

Our core strategy in this area is to be Bangladesh’s partner in developing the country, particularly in its promise, as a United Nations Millennium Declaration signatory, to meet the eight targets known as the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. We have consolidated our social investment initiatives in four core areas related to the Millennium Development Goals namely,

  • Poverty alleviation,
  • Healthcare,
  • Empowerment
  • Education.

Every step inspires us to move forward and takes us one step closer to our destination. Every step counts.

Village phone pogramm:

In rural areas, where isolation and poor infrastructure services are often the norm, telecommunications can play an extremely important role in enhancing social and economic development. The Village Phone (VP) initiative has made tremendous social and economic impact in the rural areas of Bangladesh, creating a ‘substantial consumer surplus’ for the users. On the other hand, it has created an income-earning opportunity for the VP operators, mostly poor women and borrower members of Grameen Bank, who are now able to make their opinions count.

Launch Date:
26 March, 1997, the same day commercial service of Grameenphone was launched.

How It Works:
Grameen Telecom supervises the village phone activities in cooperation with Grameen Bank and Grameenphone.

The Village Phones work as an owner-operated pay phone. A member of Grameen Bank takes a loan to buy a handset and a GP subscription and she is trained by Grameen Telecom on how to operate it. The VP operators then retails the mobile phone service among her fellow villagers, thus earning an income.

Project Milestone:
→ 270,000 Village Phone Operators in 50,000 villages.
→ Replicated in a number of countries including Uganda and Rwanda.
→ Received ‘GSMA in the Community Award’ in 2000.
→ Received ‘Commonwealth Innovation Award’ in 2003.

Community information centre:

The Grameenphone Community Information Center (CIC) is a shared premise where rural people may access a wide range of state of the art services such as Internet, voice communications, video conferencing and other information services.

It aims to bridge the “digital divide” by providing access to information-based services to under-served and underprivileged rural people, as well as to build local entrepreneurships and create employment opportunities for the unemployed youth.

Launch Date:
February 2006

How it Works:
It is designed to be run independently as small businesses by local entrepreneurs. Each CIC is equipped with a computer, a printer, a scanner, a webcam and a modem to provide internet-based services. CIC entrepreneurs are trained and are provided with continuous support from Grameenphone so that they can extend their knowledge and service to the communities they serve. CICs also provide other GP services, such as payphones and electronic recharge for pre-paid and post-paid mobile accounts.

In order to achieve its vision, Grameenphone has united with NGOs and development organizations as strategic partners. The rollout partners are Grameen Telecom, Society for Economic and Basic Advancement (SEBA), and Eagle for nationwide implementation, and Kalikapur Daridro Kallan Sangsta (KDKS), Socio-Economic Development Association (SEDA), Karmakutir, Goriber Asroy, and SSTD Communication for divisional implementation.

Project Milestone:
→ 506 Community Information Centers in 417 Upazillas.

Cell bazar:

Limited communication has always been a hindrance for performing business, especially in developing countries. In Bangladesh, the isolated and uninformed farmers and traders have little bargaining power with exploitative middlemen.

Using Grameenphone CellBazaar, buyers and sellers are able to trade goods (e.g. rice, motorcycle, electronics, etc.) through their mobile phones, bringing the benefits of information exchange, community networking and one-to-many trading to a previously unwired rural population. It facilitates the system of trading, so that the traders can gather market information for smart and informed decision-making while staying at home and grow their business. CellBazaar simply connects and empowers.

Launch Date:
July 2006

How it Works:
Grameenphone CellBazaar project is about using the mobile phone to create an electronic market place. CellBazaar users register via a simple procedure and can then post items for sale via the mobile phone or a computer. For buyers interested in purchasing items or services, the process is just as easy. A simple search through an SMS, or browsing with WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) and WEB (www.cellbazaar.com), or even through IVR (call 3838) gives access to the listed available items with their respective price and the address of purchase.

Every imaginable product is listed on CellBazaar, from poultry in Habiganj to fridges in Rangamati, opening up a world of possibilities for all involved.

Project Milestone:

  • Over a million subscribers have accessed its service since its inception.
  • On an average, there are 600 new postings and 90,000 hits per day.
  • Received 3GSMA Global Mobile Award 2008 for “Best Use of Mobile for Social and Economic Development”.
  • Voted “Asian Telecom Innovation of the Year” in the Telecom Asia Awards 2008.

Safe motherhood and infant care project:

Motherhood is rightly celebrated as the most extraordinary time in a woman’s life, and ideally, there possibly cannot be any experience that is more gratifying. However, reality sometimes differs. In Bangladesh only 13% women get Skilled Attendants at Delivery. The country has one of the highest maternal mortality rates (32 per 10,000) and infant mortality rates (52 per 1,000) in Asia.

Launch Date:
May 2007

How it Works:
In partnership with Pathfinder International and through USAID’s network of Smiling Sun clinics in 61 districts, free primary healthcare services are being provided by health professionals via 318 static clinics, 8000 satellite clinics and 6000 community-based health-workers across the country. In addition, we have introduced clinic-on-wheels (i.e. mobile mini-hospital) to complement these existing service touch-points to enhance the accessibility of services in remote areas.

Project Milestone:

  • A total of 940,251 economically disadvantaged mothers and infants received free healthcare service so far.
  • Patiya and Bhola clinics of FDSR and Swanirvar Bangladesh respectively, are being upgraded to emergency obstetric care centers.
  • 5 motorized vans are being provided to facilitate better patients’ referral.
  • 2 clinic-on-wheels are being given to increase the accessibility of services in the hard-to-reach areas.

Free eye camps:

Bangladesh has the highest number of blind people in terms of its population. There are about 750,000 adults and 40,000 children, who live blind due to cataract or other ocular diseases that could have easily been cured with timely and proper intervention.

Hence, with a mission to combat blindness, Grameenphone, in partnership with Sightsavers International, organizes free eye-care camps in different parts of the country where eye-care services are not readily available.

Launch Date:
July 2007

How it Works
Grameenphone, jointly with Sightsavers International, organizes the eye camps and provides associated actual cost for organizing the camps and also provides surgery costs which includes transportation and follow-up visit cost of patients.

Project Milestone:
→ Around 18,732 patients received free eye-care support and 2,206 cataract surgeries being performed so far.
→ 12 eye camps have been conducted in different parts of Bangladesh.

Fight against hiv/aids:

With a prevalence rate of less than 1%, HIV/AIDS in Bangladesh may not look like a major threat. However, with a population of nearly 150 million, a mere 1% rise would mean an addition of more than a million victims to the numbers. The first case of HIV in Bangladesh was detected in 1989. According to a 2004 UN study, HIV infections have tripled globally in the last six years. UNAIDS estimated that 13,000 adults and children were living with HIV at the end of 2002 in Bangladesh.

Again, one of the eight Millennium Development Goals for Bangladesh is to halt the spread of HIV and AIDS by 2015. Hence, Grameenphone is committed to work closely with Bangladesh Government and concerned development agencies to achieve that target, with the aim to raise awareness and advocate for necessary policy reforms on HIV/AIDS through different communication channels.

Launch Date:
September 2007

Project Milestone:
→ Carried out a month-long media campaign in 2007 and 2008 (Nov-Dec) including television commercials, press advertisements, radio announcements and billboards to raise awareness on the issue.
→ Sponsored the screening of a Telefilm titled UTSHO (The Source) to raise awareness on HIV/AIDS issue.
→ Internal awareness sessions were organized for GP employees.
→ Awareness sessions in various university campuses will be held in the near future.

It is estimated that there are around 1 million cancer patients in Bangladesh and about 200,000 new cases are being added every year. Around 150,000 cancer patients die annually. The problem of cancer in Bangladesh is particularly acute because cancer receives neither recognition nor funds as addressing the primary healthcare issues and ensuring associated services to the nation have still remained a challenge. As a result, the treatment facilities are lacking, trained doctors are scarce and the inadequate infrastructure in place is ill-maintained. Only 15,000 patients receive right treatment every year.

In this situation, the Dhaka Ahsania Mission Cancer and General Hospital brings hope to all and Grameenphone is proud to be a part of the initiative to ensure cancer treatment for the disadvantaged people of the country.

Launch Date:
Construction of the hospital is currently ongoing.

How it Works:
Grameenphone sponsors the complete development and upkeep of five wards and an Operation Theatre (OT) at the under construction Dhaka Ahsania Mission Cancer and GeneralHospital. One third of the beds sponsored by GP will be reserved for more economically-disadvantaged patients who will receive free admission and full treatment. Other disadvantaged patients screened will also receive treatment, which will be significantly subsidized by Grameenphone.

Grameenphone also works closely with Dhaka Ahsania Mission towards technical capacity building for cancer management.

Project Milestone:
→ Funding for necessary construction has been duly facilitated.
→ Co-organized a half-day capacity building workshop with Dhaka Ahsania Mission Cancer Hospital, with active participation by the Harvard Medical School and Tata Memorial Hospital, in which over 60 cancer physicians participated.
→ Sponsored a pilot vaccination program for cervical cancer patients, which is first of its kind in the developing world. The pilot program is to be conducted jointly by HarvardMedicalSchool and Bangabandhu SheikhMujiburRahmanMedicalUniversity.

NID awareness campaing:

Since 2006, no new cases of polio have been reported in Bangladesh. There is strong reason to believe that the disease can be completely eradicated from the country if all children in Bangladesh can be brought within the Immunization program. However, almost one-third of Bangladeshi children still do not receive the seven essential vaccines required for immunization within their first year of life under the routine Expanded Program of Immunization, and while a large cohort of children remain unvaccinated, we have little hope of eliminating potentially deadly diseases as polio.

But it is vaccine-preventable. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), spearheaded by World Health Organization, works with governments around the world to reduce the incidence of polio.

In an effort to eradicate and stop the re-emergence of polio, Bangladesh has observed several rounds of the National Immunization Days (NIDs) in 2007 to immunize 24 million children under the age of five. Grameenphone, along with the Government and the WHO, was a proud partner of the mass awareness campaign during the NIDs in March, April and October 2007. The main objective of this unique campaign was to raise awareness on immunization and help the Government of Bangladesh to eradicate polio from the country.

Launch Date:
March 2007

How it Works:
As part of the campaign, radio and newspaper announcements urged parents to bring their children to vaccination centers across the country, free SMS alerts were send to all Grameenphone subscribers, and the occasion was specially promoted at the Japan-Bangladesh Friendship Hospital, a ThankYou partner of Grameenphone. As a result, 98.7% (as per independent observers’ checklist) of the targeted children were covered during those NIDs.

Project Milestone:
→ Both ATL and BTL awareness campaign conducted in March, April, and October 2007.
→ Similar country-wide awareness campaign will be organized in November 2008.

Every smile counts – Blood bank at RafatullahCommunityHospital

Safe blood transfusion is one of the most important pre-conditions for health safety. Yet, more than 50% of the total blood needed every year in Bangladesh is donated by professional donors who pose serious health risks of many contagious diseases. On the other hand, a mere 0.05% of the total population donates blood voluntarily in the country. If the numbers would rise to even 0.2%, the total requirement of blood could be fulfilled.

In view of this, Grameenphone launched a full-fledged blood bank at one of Thengamara Mohila Sabuj Sangha (TMSS) health initiatives, the Rafatullah Community Hospital (RCH) in Bogra. This is the first and the largest blood bank in the northern region of the country funded by a private organization.

The RafatullahCommunityHospital is located in Bogra right next to the Dhaka-Rangpur Highway, which is also an accident prone area with a high incidence of need for surgeries and blood transfusion. In 2006, RCH transfused 1260 bags of blood to its patients. The surgery department of the hospital now takes complete shape with the establishment of this blood bank.

Launch Date:
August 2008

How it Works:
Grameenphone provided the financial assistance to set up the blood bank at the hospital, which will ensure adequate resources required for safe and hygienic blood transfusion for every patient requiring blood at RCH, especially the underprivileged. Grameenphone also aims to create awareness among the mass for voluntary blood donation through this project.

Project Milestone:
→ Funding for necessary construction had been duly facilitated.
→ The blood bank has become fully operational since August 2008.

Empowerment:

Every win counts – Partnership with Special Olympics Bangladesh

Ten percent population of Bangladesh is challenged with some form of disability or the other, and, outside the initiatives of the Government and a handful of private and non-profit organizations, there is very little done for the welfare of the disabled.

Thus, Grameenphone, in association with Special Olympics Bangladesh, aims to empower intellectually-challenged athletes by nurturing and nourishing their sporting capabilities. This will help them become independent and confident in themselves, so that they can not only be a part of the society in which they live, but also play an active role with their own achievements to stand upon.

Launch Date:
August 2007

How it Works:
As the sole sponsor, Grameenphone provided necessary support and training for the athletes for participation in the Special Olympic Games 2007 in Beijing, China. Special Olympics International is the world’s largest program of sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Grameenphone also organizes national talent hunts throughout the regions to form a “national talent pool” and to ensure sustainable supply of new talent. The National talent pool will be further groomed and nurtured centrally preparing them for the next International Special Olympic Games in 2011.

Project Milestone:
→ Organized a 3-month long training program in BKSP in August 2007 for 65 athletes and coaches.
→ Was the sole sponsor of the Bangladesh Team at the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games.
→ The team won 71 medals in different categories at the 2007 Special Olympics.
→ A series of regional talent hunts in all 6 divisions has been kicked off from Rajshahi in November 2008.

Every information counts – Information Boat Project

Information is a powerful enabling tool that opens up a wide range of opportunities. But in reality, a farmer from rural Bangladesh can hardly relate to the words: information technology. As the current scenario stands, less than 15% of the population has access to satellite or cable broadcasts and approximately 60% of the population does not have access to electricity. Thus, it is not surprising that information communication technologies (ICT) are generally restricted to a handful of the elite.

To break that taboo, the Information Boat Project sailed out of a partnership between Grameenphone and CARE Bangladesh whereby information hubs are being created to meet the communication needs of rural communities, especially in the Char and Haor areas.

Launch Date:
December 2007

How it Works:
The Information Boats will work as information hub to meet the communication needs of rural communities, especially in the Char and Haor areas, as people of these areas have limited access to up-to-date livelihood and other information owing to their remote presence from the mainland. A typical Information Boat will be equipped with computers, Internet and email facilities, photocopiers, fax machines, printers, webcams and video machines, scanners and much more, depending on the needs of a specific community. These boats will also be equipped with digital content, such as livelihood and agricultural information, suited for the specific areas served by the designated boats. At the same time, skilled trainers from CARE Bangladesh will provide training to the local community people on different livelihood options.

Project Milestone:
→ Grameenphone provides support to build four such Information Boats and also provides necessary technological support for providing information.
→ 1st Information Boat initiated servicing the community in Dhirai, Sunamganj in September 2008.

Every hand counts – SkillDevelopmentCenter:

There is no denying the fact that, drug addiction has become a growing phenomenon globally. Bangladesh, as a part of the global village, is affected by it with an estimated 2 million drug users, including women and children. The issue of drug abuse touches the most vulnerable: the majority of drug users in South Asia belong to the poorest strata of society and, unfortunately, most of the victims of drug abuse in our country are the youth who could have been actively contributing to the economic and social development of the country.

Drug rehabilitation centers play a significant role in this fight towards a drug-free society, as they are aimed at helping people get over their dependency on drugs and arming them with the techniques and willpower to ensure they stay drug-free. Therefore Grameenphone formed a CSR partnership with Ashokti Punorbshon Nibash (APON), to support rehabilitation of economically disadvantaged drug addicts.

Launch Date:
September 2007

How it Works:
Through this partnership, Grameenphone provided financial support for the construction of a skill development center at APONGaon to assist in the rehabilitation and social integration process of these lost souls. We also established a computerized information center on its premises, which serves as an alternative income stream for APONGaon. The information center is equipped with a computer, a printer, a scanner, a webcam and a modem to render internet-based services to the local community. It also provides other GP services, such as payphones and electronic recharge for pre-paid and post-paid mobile accounts.

Project Milestone:
→ The skill development center and the computerized information center have started providing services since December 2008.

Every confidence counts – Rehabilitation of Acid Victims

Acid throwing is an extreme form of violence in Bangladesh. Though both sexes are victims to this heinous crime, majority of victims are women and girls. The assaulters are, however, always men seeking retribution, motivated by hatred or jealousy. They throw acid not only to destroy the victims’ faces, but their hopes and dreams of ever being happy. It is meant to break their spirit and confidence.

But, with proper encouragement and support, these survivors can still stride forward leading a life in their own terms and hence escape the social stigma of being a ‘victim.’ Grameenphone is lending support to the Acid Survivors’ Foundation (ASF) in the rehabilitation and reintegration of these victims into the society.

Launch Date:
September 2007

How it Works:
Grameenphone has so far recruited six individuals who had been supported by the Acid Survivors’ Foundation. These individuals have been provided with the training by GP to help them develop the necessary skills to take on their new responsibilities at Grameenphone.

Project Milestone:
→ 6 acid victims are now working in Grameenphone and earning their own living.

 Education

Every dream counts – Scholarship Program:

Today’s children are tomorrow’s gilded reality. Education opens up unlimited possibilities for them and builds the foundation for a prosperous future. But in reality, 65 percent of our people live in the darkness of illiteracy, 40 percent of our children have never gone to school, and 93 percent of primary school-going students will never progress beyond the primary education level. Poverty is the main cause behind this.

Grameen Shikkha Scholarship Management Program has made it possible for the bright but underprivileged students to realize their educational endeavor. Grameenphone is honored to be participating in that program.

Launch Date:
December 2003

How it Works:
Grameenphone, in collaboration with Grameen Shikkha, an organization of Grameen Bank Family, provides financial assistance to 100 bright but underprivileged students through a scholarship fund at different academic levels annually. Of these scholarships, 60% are for female students. The fund is being managed directly by Grameen Shikkha.

Project Milestone:
→  Currently, 66 scholarships are being managed under GP’s fund.
→  By end of 2008, the total scholarship number will reach 100.

Every inspiration counts – True Liberation War Stories:

The Liberation War is the central component of Bangladesh’s history. It symbolizes the glorious sacrifice of our heroes for the independence of our country.

Thus, Grameenphone, in partnership with Centre for Bangladesh Liberation War Studies, sponsors the publication and free distribution of a series of illustrated books on Liberation War. The stories in these publications are based on true events of the heroics of our freedom fighters, essentially during frontal battles fought in the battle-fields of Bangladesh.

Launch Date:
July 2007

How it Works:
The series consists of a total of six books. The targeted beneficiaries are school children, from class IV to class VIII, who will be provided with copies free of cost. The aim of these books is to familiarize children with the country’s Liberation War of 1971, and, in the process, create a sense of love and pride in them for their motherland. The books will be distributed in all six divisions of the country.

Project Milestone:
→ ‘Tagra’, the first book of the series, published which will be distributed among the students of Dhaka division only.
→ Distribution process initiated of a total number of 20,000 copies.

Every mind counts – Partnership with Bishsho Shahitto Kendro

Young people are arguably the principal resource of a country’s future. They are the leaders of tomorrow. They represent prospects for economic and social development and the potential for change. In order to realize their full potential, the country needs to invest in them and make way for new opportunities for them. It is not simply the commitment of one generation to another to respond to their dreams and aspirations and translate them into reality, but indeed it is essential for the very survival of the country to do so.

Thus, Grameenphone launched a strategic partnership with Bishsho Shahito Kendro, to support two of BSK’s programs: the Enrichment Program (Book Reading Program) and the ‘Know Bangladesh’ (Deshke Jano) program, with the objective to enlighten the youth of the country.

Launch Date:
February 2008

How it Works:
As a part of the partnership, Grameenphone will be donating books to Bishsho Shahito Kendro for its “Enrichment Program”. In addition, GP will also sponsor the Prize Giving Ceremony of BSK’s Book Reading Program in three locations across the country – Dhaka, Chittagong and Khulna.

On the other hand, the “Know Bangladesh” program is a bicycle tour initiative across Bangladesh by the youth. Participants will be assigned with places to visit and will learn about the relevant demographics, hardships and lifestyle of rural people in their assigned localities, and prepare write-ups on their experiences. Through the whole process, the participants will get to know Bangladesh better – a process towards becoming an enlightened human being.

Project Milestone:
→ Donated 20,000 books to the “Enrichment Program”.
→ So far, 5 teams comprising of 35 Persons participated in the “Know Bangladesh Program”.

Every help counts – EducationCenter cum Cyclone Shelter

Cyclone Sidr, a category 4 storm, struck Bangladesh on November 2007.  The cyclone first hit the offshore islands and then swept across the southern coast east to west. This caused extensive damages. More than 3.1 million people in the 28 southern districts are reported to have been directly affected by the cyclone. It has been estimated that more than3, 500 people died, with extensive damages been done to roads and public buildings, including the destruction and partial destruction of 4,306 educational institutions. The most affected areas include Bagerhat, Barguna, Barisal, Bhola, Gopalganj, Khalkathi, Khulna, Madaripur, Patuakhali, Pirojpur, Shatkhira and Shariatpur districts.

Hence, Grameenphone as part of the company’s rehabilitation plans in the SIDR affected areas is to provide financial assistance to build education center cum cyclone shelters in the southern belt of the country.
Launch Date:
August 2008
How it Works:
The cyclone shelters will be used as education centers throughout the year to provide non-formal primary education to underprivileged children of the locality. RDF and Shushilan, local NGOs that operate in the selected areas, will be responsible for the overall management of the project, including the construction and operation of the schools. Each primary school cum cyclone-shelter will be a two storied building along with an adjacent playground.
A co-ordination committee, comprising local Government official (UNO office), RDF official and representatives from the community and Grameenphone, will monitor the progress of the construction work and supervise the school-cum-shelter after its construction.

Project Milestone:
→ Will build four such centers in Bagerhat and Barguna districts.

BENEFICIARIES OF GP:

A closer look at the mobile industry will reveal that the cash flow generated by it caters a whole load of recipients. The GOB is the key beneficiary. The Government has been directly benefited from the money mobile operators pour into its coffers in return for mobile licenses. Governments also benefit form taxes on earnings of the growing mobile industry as well as from sales tax, VAT on every call that is made. They also benefit indirectly from the boost to economy in terms of out put, technological progress and job creation. Thousands of service provider jobs have been created through out the globe.

Equipment manufacturers also benefit. They are zealous in obtaining contracts for building mobile networks. Less than a dozen major companies manufacture the radio transmission equipment and switches to construct mobile cellular networks. Also there are hundreds of small contractors who benefit too.

Service provider, viz. PCOs (shops for Phone fax), scratch card distributors, handset vendors, agents, dealers, etc.  a whole new industry arising from mobile communications profit form being the intermediary between the network operator and the customer. Other beneficiaries include incumbent network operators (BTTB) who gain from interconnection fees since most mobile phone calls either originate or terminate on fixed line networks.

Services To The Customers:

Topic of our project is “Assessing Customer Satisfaction of GrameenPhone.”. This very topic is related with Customer Relation Division of GrameenPhone this division consists of 151 employees. As the name implies, it deals with the customers after the sales occurs. Main activities of this division includes maintaining databases of the customers, preparing the bills, distributing bills, activating new connections, help line service, collection of bill through different banks all over the country, and the other after sales services.

Obviously the main job of GP’s Customer Relations Division is to provide different services to the valued subscribers over telephone, which is the help line service. In other words, their job is to satisfy the subscribers.  We have tried to judge the satisfaction level of GP service holders.

  Objectives:

This project was designed to accomplish three objectives. From our point of view, these issues are very important find out the gap between expectation and perception of the subscribers and to eliminate dissatisfaction. Through this study, we tried to attain the following objectives:

        Prime objective of our study was to find out the satisfaction level of GrameenPhone subscribers.

        As an outcome of the prime objective, we tried to notice the specific areas of dissatisfaction of the GP users.

        We applied the GAPs Model of service quality to find out both the customer and provider gaps.

Significance of the Study:

From the organization part we came to know that GrameenPhone is the market leader in the mobile telecommunication industry of Bangladesh. Their growth rate is very high. But in this edge of competition, it is very difficult to keep the leading edge intact. Companies need to come up with new ideas to remain competitive. They need to keep their customers satisfied.

So, it is very important for GrameenPhone to know whether their customers are satisfied or not.  If the customers are not satisfied, GP can specify the zones of dissatisfaction and take necessary actions to remove the dissatisfactions. Hence, we decided to work on this topic.

  Hypothesis:

Our hypothesis is, “Although GrameenPhone is leading the market of mobile telecommunication industry with a sharp distance, their customers are not fully satisfied with the company’s services. If GP does not take care of these dissatisfactions and another company enters the market with similar offers, it will be difficult for GrameenPhone to keep the current market share intact.”

 In our hypothesis, we have first admitted that GrameenPhone is the market leader of the mobile telecommunication industry of Bangladesh. As per the market share data, there is no scope for argumentation on this issue. Nevertheless, we assumed that the customers of GP are not fully satisfied and loyal to GP.

Our logic behind this assumption was: GP is a highly growing company. It tripled its subscriber base in the year 2000. In this high growth situation, it is very difficult to keep the customers satisfied.

Another assumption of our hypothesis was, if GP does not take care of the dissatisfactions and another company comes with similar offer, it will be difficult for GrameenPhone to keep their market share intact.

The logic that supported this idea was: we  assumed GP’s customers are not brand loyal. They are using GP’s service as they do not have any suitable alternative. So, if a big player form another industry enters this business, it can be challenging for GrameenPhone.

Customer Satisfaction: From Theoretical View:

Customer satisfaction is the extent to which a product or service’s perceived performance matches a buyer’s expectations. If the product or service’s performance falls short of expectations, the buyer is dissatisfied. If performance matches or exceeds expectations, the buyer is satisfied or delighted.

Expectations are based on customer’s past buying experiences, the opinion of friends and associates, and marketer and competitor information and promises. Marketer must be careful to set the right level of expectations. If they set expectations too low, they may satisfy those who buys but fail to attract enough buyers. In contrast, if they raise expectations too high buyers are likely to be disappointed. Dissatisfaction can arise either from a decrease in product and service quality or from an increase in customer expectations. In either case, it presents an opportunity for companies that can deliver superior customer value and satisfaction.

Today’s most successful companies are rising expectations—and delivering performance to match. Such companies track their customers’ expectations, perceived company performance, and customer satisfaction. Highly satisfied customers produce several benefits for the company. Satisfied customers are less price sensitive, remain customers for a longer period, and talk favorably to others about the company and its products & services.

Although the customer-centered firm seeks to deliver high customer satisfaction relative to its competitors, it does not attempt to maximize customer satisfaction. A company can always increase customer satisfaction by lowering its price increasing its services, but it may result in lower profits. Thus, the purpose of marketing is to generate customer value profitably. This requires a very delicate balance: The marketer must continue to generate more customer value and satisfaction but not “give away house.”

Now, we have a very good idea regarding the importance of customer satisfaction. So, it is also important for the company to know about the satisfaction level of the customers. When any problem is identified, it becomes easier to solve the problem. In the next part of our  paper I have focused on the ‘Customer Satisfaction Factors’ of GrameenPhone. That has been followed by our primary research: a survey to find out the ‘customer satisfaction level’ of GrameenPhone.

Customer Satisfaction Factors of GP:

GrameenPhone is a highly growing mobile company. In mobile telecommunication industry, there are direct and indirect factors that influence customer satisfaction. I tried to focus on the most important factors that influence customer satisfaction at GrameenPhone.

Airtime:

Airtime is the core offering of GrameenPhone. So, quality of communication, network availability etc. are the most important customer satisfaction factors. Quality of airtime depends on the ratio of subscribers and transmission base stations. If the numbers of subscribers are increased without developing the network, quality of airtime goes down.

After Sales Services:

After sales service is very important in the mobile telecommunication industry. GP has extensive after sales customer care tools. I would like to focus on these tools  one by one:

Help line:

GP has the only 24 hours help line service in Bangladesh. In this part of our paper we tried to focus on the existing operations of the help line service of GP, which will enable us to understand the importance of the help line service.

A GP subscriber needs to dial 122 to reach GrameenPhone Help line. It is computer aided information base to afford immediate access to the information about the subscribers. But the operations are done manually.

After dialing 122 the subscriber is first welcomed by an automated and standardized process. Then s/he needs to wait for few seconds. After that the subscriber reaches the Customer Relations Officer (CRO). The CRO starts the conversation with a greeting. The subscriber explains his/her problems to the CRO (Some Basic Queries are enclosed in The APPENDIX).

If the inquiry is regarding general information, the CRO does not need to take help of information system. S/he just provides the information and the subscriber keeps the phone.

There are some queries that are very much more personalized and the CRO needs to get into the account of that particular subscriber and provide the service. In some cases, the subscriber just keeps the complaint/request and later action is needed to be taken.Customers need to pay TK 4 per minute to take the service from help line.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR):

This is a newly introduced service by GrameenPhone. This is an automated help line service. GP subscribers need to dial 123 to reach this service. After that, s/he can get information regarding bill, usage, and credit policy, bank name that receives GP’s bill, and so on by choosing different options. It is free of charge for the first minute, from the second minute the subscriber needs to pay TK 2 per minute.

Information Centers:

Most of the problems of the subscribers are solved by the help line service. However, some problems cannot be solved. Subscribers need to come physically to deal with those problems. GrameenPhone has five information centers that are popularly known as ‘Info Centers’.

These info centers are situated in the prime divisional headquarters like Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet, Rajshahi, and Khulna. In these information centers, the subscribers can come directly with their problems like billing (wrong bill, detailed bill etc.), address change, SIM change, handset problems etc.

These after sales services are very crucial to keep the subscribers satisfied regarding GrameenPhone.

Conducting a Survey

We developed our questionnaire (enclosed in the APPENDIX) mainly focusing on the customer satisfaction factors of GrameenPhone. There were ten closed-ended questions. We kept one open-ended question to better understand the gap between customers expectation and satisfaction level.

Our topic of this project was ‘Assessing Customer Satisfaction of GrameenPhone’. As we aimed to assess the satisfaction level, we only surveyed the ‘users’ of GrameenPhone.

The sample size was 50. We went for random sampling. Nevertheless, we picked the sample mainly from Dhaka Division. In the next part, we have represented our survey findings.

 Presenting the Survey Results:

        I use GrameenPhone because it is the best!

GrameenPhone because it is the best

features in comparison

Some Representative ‘Additional Comments’:

 Help line is not so easy to reach.

        Behavior of help line officers is quite rough.

        Help line gives support to solve our problems.

        Info Centers take a whole day to solve a small problem; it is too crowd there.

        In Dhaka city, there should be more info centers, especially in the old side.

        If BTTB introduces mobile phone, GP will certainly lose its market.

        Countrywide roaming facility is exciting!

        WAP service is very helpful.

        We want access to BTTB.

        Pre-Paid connections are very difficult to avail.

        Billing rate should be reduced, as it is too high now!

        GrameenPhone does not think about the subscribers, their main intention is to make money.

        Sales agents are charging extra money from the buyers.

        Good Luck, GrameenPhone!

  Finding & Analysis:

1. Grameenphone should committed to work closely with Bangladesh Government and concerned development agencies to achieve that target, with the aim to raise awareness and advocate for necessary policy reforms on HIV/AIDS through different communication channels.

 2. Grameenphone is lending support to the Acid Survivors’ Foundation (ASF) in the rehabilitation and reintegration of these victims into the society.

3.  Grameenphone as part of the company’s rehabilitation plans in the SIDR affected areas is to provide financial assistance to build education center cum cyclone shelters in the southern belt of the country.

4. As a part of the partnership, Grameenphone will be donating books to Bishsho Shahito Kendro for its “Enrichment Program”.

5. Grameenphone, in partnership with Centre for Bangladesh Liberation War Studies, sponsors the publication and free distribution of a series of illustrated books on Liberation War.

6. Grameenphone provided financial support for the construction of a skill development center at APONGaon to assist in the rehabilitation and social integration process of these lost souls.

7. The Information Boat project works as information hub to meet the communication needs of rural communities, especially in the Char and Haor areas, as people of these areas have limited access to up-to-date livelihood and other information owing to their remote presence from the mainland.

8. Grameenphone provided necessary support and training for the athletes for participation in the Special Olympic Games 2007 in Beijing, China. Special Olympics International is the world’s largest program of sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities

9. Grameenphone provided the financial assistance to set up the blood bank at the hospital, which will ensure adequate resources required for safe and hygienic blood transfusion for every patient requiring blood at RCH

10.  radio and newspaper announcements urged parents to bring their children to vaccination centers across the country, free SMS alerts were send to all Grameenphone subscribers for NID awareness camping.

11. Grameenphone, jointly with Sightsavers International, organizes the eye camps and provides associated actual cost for organizing the camps and also provides surgery costs which includes transportation and follow-up visit cost of patients.

12. Grameenphone CellBazaar project is about using the mobile phone to create an electronic market place.

13. Community information centre is designed to be run independently as small businesses by local entrepreneurs.

14. Grameen Telecom supervises the village phone activities in cooperation with Grameen Bank and Grameenphone.

    RECOMMENDATIONS

We designed our recommendations aiming to close the gaps between the responsibilities’ expectations and perceptions regarding GrameenPhone. Our recommendations are:

  • They should try to put more awareness among the people by holding more social
  • They should work more closely with Bangladesh Government and concerned development agencies for HIV/AIDS through different communication channels.
  • They should support more to the Acid Survivors’ Foundation (ASF) in the rehabilitation and reintegration of these victims into the society.
  • Grameenphone as part of the company’s rehabilitation plans in the SIDR affected areas is to provide financial assistance to build education center cum cyclone shelters in the southern belt of the country.
  • As a part of the partnership, Grameenphone must  donate more books to Bishsho Shahito Kendro for its “Enrichment Program”.
  • Grameenphone, in partnership with Centre for Bangladesh Liberation War Studies,should sponsor the publication and free distribution of a series of illustrated books on Liberation War.
  • Grameenphone should provided financial support for the construction of a skill development center at APONGaon to assist in the rehabilitation and social integration process of these lost souls.
  • They should develop the Information Boat project which works as information hub to meet the communication needs of rural communities.
  • Grameenphone should provide the financial assistance to set up the blood bank at the hospital, which will ensure adequate resources required for safe and hygienic blood transfusion for every patient requiring blood at RCH
  • Grameen Telecom should supervises the village phone activities in cooperation with Grameen Bank and Grameenphone.
  • Community information centre should be designed to be run independently as small businesses by local entrepreneurs.
  • Grameenphone CellBazaar project should be expanded using the mobile phone for create an electronic market place.
  • They should work more on radio and newspaper announcements urged parents to bring their children to vaccination centers across the country, free SMS alerts must send to all Grameenphone subscribers for NID awareness camping.
  • There should be an info center at the southern side of the capital city.

Conclusion:

For attaining sustained growth in the socio-economic infrastructure of a nation, a well-balanced and widely developed telecommunication system is one of the major pre-requisites. It is not only the necessity of the urban and affluent group of the society but also of the rural community.

At the end of the 20th century, the world is witnessing an explosion in the telecommunication and information society, especially the rapid growth of the Internet and mobile communications, the agreement of the world Trade Organization (WTO) on basic telecommunications, the worldwide trend of liberalization, competition, and globalization and the convergence of technology and Better Human Resource.

Although GrameenPhone is leading the market of mobile telecommunication industry with a sharp distance, and their customers are not fully satisfied with the company’s services. If GP does not take care of these dissatisfactions and another company enters the market with similar offers, it will be difficult for GrameenPhone to keep the current market share intact.” From the analysis of the survey results and, it is clear that GP’s subscribers are dissatisfied with different services of the company. Moreover, the analysis indicated that the subscribers of GrameenPhone are not loyal toward the company. They clearly pointed that if another company comes with similar offer, they will not hesitate to switch. So, our hypothesis has been proved as a valid one. But there was a condition in our hypothesis: ‘If GP does not take care of these dissatisfactions…’ Therefore, I recommended some courses of action. Our observations make us believe that If GP follows these recommendations; it will enable them to achieve a sustainable distinct competitive advantage and to run smoothly with loyal subscribers & market leadership.

Social Responsibilities of GrameenPhone