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Speakers List / Overview

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Platzhalter Speakers
Iqbal Z. Quadir

Professor of the practice of Development and Entrepreneurship and
Founder and Director of the Legatum Center for Development and
Entrepreneurship at MIT;
Founder and former CEO of Grameenphone in Bangladesh


Iqbal Z. Quadir has been articulating, for two decades, the critical role of entrepreneurship and innovations in creating prosperity in low-income countries. In the 1990s, Quadir conceived and organized Grameenphone to provide telephone access to 100 million people living in rural Bangladesh. Grameenphone is now Bangladesh’s leading telecommunications operator providing access to over 35 million subscribers irrespective of their geographic location or economic standing.

From 2001-2004, Quadir taught at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, focusing on the democratizing effects of technologies in low-income countries. He co-founded the journal Innovations (MIT Press) and, in 2005, moved to MIT where he founded the Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship in 2007 and is a professor of the practice. Quadir founded Emergence BioEnergy to produce decentralized energy, and recently co-founded Money in Motion to provide mobile phone-based banking services. He sits on the boards of the World Wide Web Foundation and the Global Fairness Initiative.

Quadir holds an MBA and an MA from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and a BS with honors from Swarthmore College. In 2011, he received the honorary degrees of Doctor of Humane Letters from Swarthmore College and Doctor of Science from Case Western Reserve University.


«Bottom-Up Entrepreneurship»
The economic growth unleashed by mobile phones throughout the developing world is a valuable example of how economic and social progress can result when the interests of businesses and ordinary people become aligned.  Businesses and entrepreneurs delivering productivity-enhancing technologies and innovations in this context can create economic and social value by activating a key, under-used resource in low-income countries: people. Because productivity tools empower people to use their time more efficiently, capitalize on opportunities, and achieve and earn more, people can afford the very tools and services that boost their productivity in the first place. By responding to people’s willingness to pay for enhanced productivity, businesses and entrepreneurs delivering such tools can build viable businesses and invest in infrastructure. Mobile phones are just one example of a productivity tool that has both empowered people and led to the creation of vast business opportunities.

There are countless other productivity tools – and innovative permutations and combinations of existing tools and platforms – that could hold the same promise. Therefore, there is tremendous opportunity for businesses, entrepreneurs, inventors, and investors to develop and deliver the new productivity tools that will align the interests of businesses and ordinary people, unleashing a virtuous cycle of economic and social progress.