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TED Blog


Fellows Friday with Kamal Quadir

Posted by: Alana Herro July 22, 2011 at 10:00 am EDT

Creator of CellBazaar, a virtual marketplace that can be accessed via mobile phone, Kamal Quadir is on to his next mobile phone-based venture, bKash. This new company provides access to financial services through the mobile phone. Kamal divides his time between homes in America and Bangladesh, yet this nationally-recognized artist still squeezes in time to paint — sometimes while on an airplane home!

Are you a multidisciplinary mold-breaker? TED2012 Fellowship applications are now open! Apply here.

Interactive Fellows Friday Feature:

Join the conversation by answering Fellows’ weekly questions via Facebook. This week, Kamal asks:

Which is the hottest place for an entrepreneur in the world today?

Starting Saturday, click here to respond!

Since selling CellBazaar, what have you been up to?

I wanted to take some time off after selling CellBazaar. But a week after selling CellBazaar, I took over this extremely exciting company, bKash. We launched nation-wide service of bKash yesterday.

“Bikash” in Bengali means “blooming” or “prosperity.” “Kash” sounds like “cash,” and “b” can stand for Bangladesh. bKash is about creating financial services for people in Bangladesh who don’t have access to banks. Bangladesh has a tremendous mobile network. It’s one of the best-networked countries in the world: 97 percent of the population has access to mobile phones. Yet only nine percent have access to conventional banking. bKash is trying to minimize that gap.

Cell phones are like mini-computers: you can maintain a bank account with a mobile phone. We have made a mobile phone-based financial service, which is safe, convenient, and easy to use. I have been helping to build the company since January 2008.

Did your CellBazaar experiences help prepare you for bKash?

At CellBazaar, I learned how to use mobile technology in effective ways, which is helping me tremendously at bKash.

There are many technological innovations taking place all over the world that could improve lives in Bangladesh in many ways. The challenge is finding the right technology and communicating that to 160 million people. Most of them do not have access to the Internet or regular media, and do not read English. Sixty percent of the population doesn’t have access to electricity. How do you include them in the technological possibilities? It’s a fascinating challenge to work on.

With CellBazaar, we approached this problem by making a virtual marketplace, accessible via the cell phone, so even a farmer in a remote corner of the country can easily and efficiently sell his bag of potatoes. The technology itself is a small piece of the puzzle. Figuring out its execution and limitations is the key.


A farmer uses CellBazaar to post his items.

What’s your philosophy for striking at poverty?

The beginning of saving is the ending of poverty.

The reason is that, when you save a dollar, when you say, “I won’t die today if I set  aside some of today’s resource for a future day,” then you belong to a different category, because you are planning and making a provision for your future.

Let me give an example to elaborate this issue. When Bangladeshi women who work, say, in a textile factory receive their salaries, one of their concerns is where to save it. They don’t have a place to save. They often give it to their husbands, brothers, or fathers for safekeeping. Even though she’s the one who earned it, she’s not fully empowered with the money she earned. bKash is a tool that can help these women become fully empowered, because it allows people to have digital accounts if they have mobile phones.

Today, Bangladesh has a good-sized middle class. If you look at some of the social indices, it’s one of the healthiest countries among the developing countries. The abject poverty where people are starving does not exist in Bangladesh anymore to a large extent. So the poverty we are addressing is a level above that. We believe we’ve come to a place where if you apply technology, the country can actually take more people to the middle-income world.

A bKash user applies the technology to save and transfer funds over her mobile phone.

There are many aspiring social entrepreneurs out there who are trying to take their passion and ideas to the next level. What is one piece of advice you would give to them based on your own experiences and successes? Learn more about how to become a great social entrepreneur from all of the TED Fellows on the Case Foundation’s Social Citizens blog.

Every country, and every community, is very different. What I find is a good way of solving problems in Bangladesh or the US may not be applicable to somewhere else. So a social entrepreneur must figure out, “What is the competitive advantage we have here?”

I spoke of Bangladesh’s tremendous mobile network before. But Bangladesh has other competitive advantages. For example, how is Bangladesh able to feed the equivalent of half the US population, from land area that is the size of the state of Wisconsin? We have farms that can be harvested four times a year. Things grow very quickly. If you have a mango seed and plant it, in a few years you’ll have a mango tree growing mangoes.

In such a populous country, our biggest resource is our people. When I do a project here, a lot of people are always involved. When I did CellBazaar, I involved hundreds of people to educate millions of people on how to use the technology.

This time, with bKash, which is a joint venture of a US company Money in Motion and BRAC Bank, I am literally deploying thousands of people to teach millions of people how to use bKash. Why spend money on expensive newspaper or television ads that may not reach the target market very well? If I teach common people to go door-to-door to teach people how to use this mobile banking, it is not only creating jobs, it’s also giving people first-hand teaching of a new technology which really cannot be taught with those expensive ads.

So finding the advantage and capitalizing on it is the important thing. Think hard and find out, “Is this my competitive advantage?”

Why did you decide to move back to Bangladesh?

I am from Bangladesh. I was born in the year Bangladesh became independent. I have a very strong connection to Bangladesh. I moved to America in 1990, and now I go back to Cambridge, Massachusetts every three months or so.

I’m comfortable working in both places. But things are really happening here in Bangladesh.  And I am motivated by working for social goals – making direct, visible improvements in people’s lives. Here, you can do a project that touches millions of people, and though it may only be one dollar per person, you create a million dollars of value.

What has the TED Fellowship meant to you?

The TED Fellowship gives a tremendous opportunity to meet people of your type of mindset, people who are engaging in your type of activities, from a common platform. It is very reassuring. It tells you that someone is encouraging you to do what you believe in doing, so continue doing it.

Your artwork is in the permanent collection at the Bangladesh National Museum. What is your favorite medium?

I did all my work on silkscreen during my senior year. I thought I would be an artist — and I still think I am an artist. I try to work quite regularly. But now given the time constraints, I prefer working with watercolors. With watercolor, you can think in your mind for a long time, and then execute the art piece in a relatively short period.

I try to use the natural flow of water. If I were painting a landscape of say, the pond in Central Park, and I saw the color on the paper moving a certain way, I try to maintain that. I don’t try to control too much. Once the natural shape takes place, I try to find the pond within that shape.

I’ll take watercolors with me when I’m traveling, sometimes even on the aircraft.

I hope my children will learn to paint. I would love to teach them when they get a bit older.
 partnership  between brac and network of mobile entrepreneus money in motion

   ...most interesting journal on future of monbile financial inclusion is MIT innovationsvolume 6 issue 4

bkash info at IFC

bkash the wizard is Kamal Quadir

directors include founder of mpesa

bKash Limited (a subsidiary of BRAC Bank) is a joint venture between BRAC Bank Limited, Bangladesh, and Money in Motion LLC, USA. The ultimate objective of bKash is to ensure access to a broader range of financial services for the people of Bangladesh. It has a special focus to serve the low income masses of the country to achieve broader financial inclusion by providing services that are convenient, affordable and reliable.

More than 70% of the population of Bangladesh lives in rural areas where access to formal financial services is difficult. Yet these are the people who are in most need of such services, either for receiving funds from loved ones in distant locations, or to access financial tools to improve their economic condition. Less than 15% of Bangladeshis are connected to the formal banking system whereas over 50% have mobile phones. These phones are not merely devices for talking, but can be used for more useful and sophisticated processing tasks. bKash was conceived primarily to utilize these mobile devices and the omnipresent telecom networks to extend financial services in a secure manner to the under-served remote population of Bangladesh.  

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Reply to This ENTREPRENEURIAL REVOLUTION NETWORK BENCHMARKS 2025now : Remembering Norman Macrae

how do humans design futures?-in the 2020s decade of the sdgs – this question has never had moore urgency. to be or not t be/ – ref to lessons of deming or keynes, or glasgow university alumni smith and 200 years of hi-trust economics mapmaking later fazle aded - we now know how-a man made system is defined by one goal uniting generations- a system multiplies connected peoples work and demands either accelerating progress to its goal or collapsing - sir fazle abed died dec 2020 - so who are his modt active scholars networks empowering youth with his knohow n- soros with jim kim paul farmer leon botstein and with particular contexts- girls village development and with ba-ki moon global climate adaptability where cop26 november will be a great chance to renuite with 260 years of adam smith and james watts purposes there is no point in connecting with system mentors unless you want to end poverty-specifically we interpret sdg 1 as meaning mext girl or boy born has fair chance at free happy an productive life as we seek to make any community a child is born into a thriving space to grow up between discover of new worlds in 1500 and 1945 systems got worse and worse on the goal eg processes like slavery emerged- and ultimately the world was designed around a handful of big empires and often only the most powerful men in those empires. 4 amazing human-tech systems were invented to start massive use by 1960 borlaug agriculture and related solutions every poorest village (2/3people still had no access to electricity) could action learn person to person- deming engineering whose goal was zero defects by helping workers humanize machines- this could even allowed thousands of small suppliers to be best at one part in machines assembled from all those parts) – although americans invented these solution asia most needed them and joyfully became world class at them- up to 2 billion people were helped to end poverty through sharing this knowhow- unlike consuming up things actionable knowhow multiplies value in use when it links through every community that needs it the other two technologies space and media and satellite telecoms, and digital analytic power looked promising- by 1965 alumni of moore promised to multiply 100 fold efficiency of these core tech each decade to 2030- that would be a trillion tmes moore than was needed to land on the moon in 1960s. you might think this tech could improve race to end poverty- and initially it did but by 1990 it was designed around the long term goal of making 10 men richer than 40% poorest- these men also got involved in complex vested interests so that the vast majority of politicians in brussels and dc backed the big get bigger - often they used fake media to hide what they were doing to climate and other stuff that a world trebling in population size d\from 1945 to 2030 also needed to map. so the good and bad news is we the people need to reapply all techs where they are only serving rich men and politicians od every party who have taken us to the brink of ending our species- these are the most exciting times to be alive - we the 3 generations children parents grandparents have until 2030 to design new system orbits gravitated around goal 1 and navigating the un's other 17 goals do you want to help/ 8 cities we spend most time helping students exchange sustainability solutions 2018-2019 BR0 Beijing Hangzhou: BR6 Geneva, Luxembourg, BR2 Dhaka, Delhi, BR1 Tokyo, Seoul

Map with Belt Road Imagineers :where do you want to partner in sustaining world

Our search for top 50 World Record Jobs Creators begins with E1 Xi Jinping - World's Number 1 Job Creator - Peoples Global2.0 

Girls world maps begin at B01 Bangladesh economical miracle of 15 million poorest village mothers grasssroots networking -good news reporting with and and


online library of norman macrae--


correspondence welcomed on 50 year curriculum of Entrepreneurial Revolution and net generation as most productive time to be alive -

MA1 AliBaba TaoBao

Ma 2 Ali Financial

Ma10.1 DT and ODPS

health catalogue; energy catalogue

Keynes: 2025now - jobs Creating Gen


how poorest women in world build

A01 BRAC health system,

A02 BRAC education system,

A03 BRAC banking system

K01 Twin Health System - Haiti& Boston

K02 Twin YouthWorldBanking: Haiti& Bkash (BRAC)

K03 Twin Open Society : Budapest-Rome - Economists and Peace Champions

A04 Africa & Asia's 5 Billion Peoples eleraning satellite Yazmi

A05 Triplet Open Apps Media Labs of Ethiopia and MIT and Ma-Lee (worldwide China)

Job creation case Y01 Foundation of Grameen Bank- good news in association with
Ma 10,2 grameen inteldt

Ma 10.3 IHUB/Usha Kenya DT

Ma 10.4 Kenya nanocredit

Ma 10.5 MIT top ten mobile app labs of open tech

Ma 10.6 berners lee www

KMAS1 Kimchoices KMAS1.1 Ki-Moon KMAS1.2 Sun F Yang Lan

W4E1 telecentres for girls jobs

W4E2 womens nanocredit










MEDIALABNegropronte > Yazmi


AFM00 Samara and AfricaStar and Yazmi
AFM10 IHUB/Ushahidi
AFM11 MIT Media Lab Africa
AFM12 MIT D-lab and Abdul Latif with Toyota
AFM121 Polak last mile multinationals africa –eg green energy and clean water distrib
AFM13 Ibrahim Foundation
AFM14 Africa24tv
TB1 Free University and Jobs Schools
TB11 Open Learning Campus Africa
AFM15 Young Africa Society –world bank ypa milennials’ goals 2.1
AFM2 Jamii Bora –end slums youth banking and partner labs
TB20 Primary financial literacy curriculum – eg Afaatoun out of Orphanages
AFM21 Bridges primary schools
TB21 Love of self- empowerment curriculum – eg Maharishi (TB1)
TB22 Coding curricula from primary up
AFM31 Kiva Africa
AFM32 Acumen
AFM33 BRAC African Girl Jobs-creating banking
AFM34 Eagri-Africa
AFM35 African health millennials www –and PIH Rwanda, Free Nursing College Africa
AFM36 Mara Foundation
AFM5 Nanocredit
AFM6 USADBC - diaspora association benchmarking african food security value chains
AFM61 –diaspora multi-country celebrations eg AfricaTip (AgeTip)
AFM612 Makerfaireafrica
BOM1 berners lee
BOM2 mit every students an entrepreneur
BOM21 MIT100k
BOM3 mit media lab -open source wizard entrepreneurs and new commons
BOM30 Negroponte $100 Laptop
BOM31 Joi Ito
BOM32 reclaim our learning
BOM4 MIT open education movement
BOM5 Legatum
BO51 Legatum millennials and fans
BOM52 networks of cashless banking technolgists
BOM53 innovations journal
BOM6 partners in health/brigham womens hospital
BOM61 value chain networks club inspired by pih and world bank millenials
BOM62 ypchronic
BOM64 Haiti training hospital - connector of neraly free nursing college
BOSF1 Kiva and puddle
BOSF2 Khan Academy
BOSF3 Coursera segment interested in Open Learning Campus

communications and community banking links series 1 and 2

Out of The Economist since 1972 Macrae's viewpoint Entrepreneurial Revolution argues that the net generation can make tremendous human progress if and only if educators, economists and all who make the biggest resource integrate youth job creating into the way their worldwide purpose and impact is valued join in ... 43rd Entrepreneurial Revolution Youth Networks Celebration..

job creation survey

discuss valuation video

Norman Macrae Foundation


Wash DC tel 1 301 881 1655




For how many of The Economist's first 175 years was it the most effective mediator of sustainability exponentials of humanity all over the planet


best million-youth moocs hosted by economists


discuss valuation video

hottest youth-spring question of our life and times-can online education end youth unemployment for ever ? yes but only if you help map how!

moocyunus launches youtube competition -what would purpose of youth's favorite free online university be?

join blog of moocyunus


 The Economist- when first seeing youth experiment with digital networks in 1972,

Season's most urgent collaboration debates:

next 100 million jobs nursing

42nd year of 7 wonders if thinkpad of The Economist's genre of Entrepreneurial Revoution

40 years of notes from archives of entrepreneurial revolution 1-7 a...


help catalogue top 100 microfranchises


help catalogue 100 short videos on right old muddle of anti-youth economists..

Dad (Norman Macrae) created the genre Entrepreneurial Revolution  to debate how to make the net generation the most productive and collaborative . We had first participated in computer assisted learning experiments in 1972. Welcome to more than 40 years of linking pro-youth economics networks- debating can the internet be the smartest media our species has ever collaborated around?

Foundation Norman Macrae- The Economist's Pro-Youth Economist

5801 Nicholson Lane Suite 404 Rockville MD 20852   tel 301 881 1655 email

Main Project webs including as lead open education partner of mandela elders and branson

2013 = 170th Year of The Economist being Founded to End Hunger

2010s = Worldwide Youth's most productive and collaborative decade

 1972: Norman Macrae starts up Entrepreneurial Revolution debates in The Economist. Will we the peoples be in time to change 20th C largest system designs and make 2010s worldwide youth's most productive time? or will we go global in a way that ends sustainability of ever more villages/communities? Drayton was inspired by this genre to coin social entrepreneur in 1978 ,,continue the futures debate here

world favorite moocs-40th annual top 10 league table

  • 1) e-ME
  • 2) 8 week tour of grameen curriculum and uniting human race to poverty museums
  • 3) 8 week tour of brac curriculum and mapping microeducation summit for post 2015 milennium goals

send votes to , Macrae Foundation

  • 4) 8 week tour of africa's free university and entrepreneurial slums
  • 5 what to do now for green energy to save the world in time
  • 6 nurses as 21st world's favorite information grassroots networkers and most economical cheerleaders more



  • 7 how food security as a mising curricululum of middle schools can co-create more jobs than any nation can dream of
  • 8 pro-youth economics and public servants
  • 9 celebrating china as number 1 creditor nation
  • 10 questions worldwide youth are asking about what was true last decade but false this decade because that's what living in the most innovative era means

archives at The Economist


Number 1 in Economics for Youth

The unacknowledged giantcelebrate unacknowledged giant

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Timeless ER from The Economist's Unacknowledged Giant (aka dad Norman Macrae) A  b  c ;;1997 a;;; 1983 a ;;;1976 a b;;; 1972 a ;;; 1962 a 1956 a - correspndence with optimistic rationalists always welcome -


from please help in 2 ways -nomination of collaboration 100; testify to world's largest public broadcasters such as BBCthat this survey needs their mediation now

Intercapital searches for replicable youth eonomic franchise



10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0

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