The purpose of this paper is to explore the opportunities and challenges of serving low‐income consumers in developing markets with mobile telecommunications.
Field visits were made to Africa, India, Mexico and the Philippines, and in‐depth interviews took place with companies that had succeeded in serving low‐income consumers.
The paper provides insights about the importance of various elements of a mobile operator business model. The paper suggests that serving the poor is just as much about motivation as about issues such as affordability and availability.
Since this research is field‐based and examines only a small sample of firms, only tentative propositions can be offered on what the answers to the research questions are believed to be.
The paper suggests that managers need to go beyond traditional approaches to serving the poor, and take into account the unique institutional context of many developing markets.
This has value for management practitioners, regulators and researchers. The paper fulfils an identified need to study different business models of mobile operators in bringing telecommunications services to the poor, and identifies common themes and success factors.
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