Bangladesh's Infoladies Bring the Internet to Villages on Bicycle

Bringing the Internet to Bangladeshi villages on the back of a bike

Only 5 million of Bangladesh’s 152 million citizens have regular Internet access. Three-quarters live in rural villages. The Infoladies, a group of about 50 women in their early 20s, travel through the countryside equipped with a laptop computer, a tablet, a smartphone, a digital camera, and a glucometer ministering to the technologically impoverished.

Photograph by GMB Akash/Panos Pictures

Only 5 million of Bangladesh’s 152 million citizens have regular Internet access. Three-quarters live in rural villages. The Infoladies, a group of about 50 women in their early 20s, travel through the countryside equipped with a laptop computer, a tablet, a smartphone, a digital camera, and a glucometer ministering to the technologically impoverished.

As they bike from village to village in matching uniforms (the pink and blue seen here has recently given way to lavender), they help villagers with a range of digital tasks, such as taking blood-sugar readings and looking up information on crops. Their most requested activity is setting up Skype calls to male relatives, many of whom have left to take jobs in the Middle East.

The Infoladies’ project was created by antipoverty nonprofit Dnet, which lends each woman $650 to purchase equipment so she can set up her own franchise. The women average 7,000 taka ($90) in earnings per month from their services, which is more than what most Bangladeshi farmers earn. “I am running my family,” says Mahfuza Akhter, 24, an Infolady. “I am independent, and that makes a difference.”

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