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  • By Ryan Stanley, November 2005.

    In an increasingly interconnected world, the ability to efficiently access and share information can have dramatic implications for social and economic development. As worldwide demand for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) services grows, so does the potential for these services to improve the lives of the poor. This article examines how microfinance can serve as a platform for the provision of ICTs to the rural poor. It considers how a successful microfinance product, such as Village Phone, can increase women’s empowerment and welfare.

    In addition, this article reflects on the connections between women’s empowerment and the HIV/AIDS pandemic, exploring ways the microfinance sector can help to alleviate the burdens associated with the disease and decrease women’s vulnerability to infection. The article draws from research on and experience from Village Phone programs in Bangladesh, Uganda, and Rwanda.

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