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Case Title:

Kamal Quadir's CellBazaar: Connecting Bangladesh's Bottom of the Pyramid through Mobile Commerce

Publication Year : 2010

Authors: Shanul Jain and R. Muthukumar under the guidance of Dr. Nagendra V Chowdary

Industry: Services


Case Code: IPD0102

Teaching Note:  Available

Structured Assignment: Not Available

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CellBazaar is a virtual marketplace started by Bangladeshi entrepreneur, Kamal Quadir. Quadir started this venture because he wanted to help those people who live in the rural areas of Bangladesh and have little or no access to conventional means of communication. These are the traders, fishermen and other people in the remote and far-flung parts of the country. Quadir’s idea centres on the use of cell phones to connect these people. The idea was borne out of the observation that the number of mobile phone subscribers in Bangladesh was growing and since the mobile phone was an economical device it was available to a vast majority of people at different levels of society and therefore could be put to innovative uses.

The CellBazaar business model is simple. It allows people to trade using Short Messages via their cell phones. Because of its ease of use, CellBazaar has caught the fancy of rural Bangladesh. There a number of budding entrepreneurs who are using their creative skills to profit through the forum. More importantly, traders and farmers are now able to get a fair price for their produce, conduct trade in a short time and prevent themselves from being exploited by the greedy middlemen. These are just some of the benefits of the service. Quadir after the success of CellBazaar in Bangladesh wants to extend the concept to other Asian and African nations.

There are a number of initiatives aimed at connecting those who are at the bottom of the economic pyramid. The Bottom of the Pyramid comprises 4 million people with an annual household income of $5 trillion. Thus there is immense opportunity for entrepreneurs with a social conscience to serve these people.

This case study discusses the ingenuity of CellBazaar’s business model. It enables a discussion on how Quadir through his effort is helping to connect a hitherto isolated population. Discussion is further facilitated on whether the CellBazaar business model is scalable or not and what does Quadir need to do to ensure its long-term sustainability.

Pedagogical Objectives:

  • To understand the concept of social entrepreneurship
  • To understand CellBazaar’s business model and its importance in the context of Bangladesh
  • To understand with the example of CellBazaar how fortune can be created at the Base of the Pyramid
  • To discuss whether the CellBazaar business model is scalable.

Keywords : Social Entrepreneurship; Business Model;Cell Bazar; Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP); Mobile Commerce; Kamal Quadir; Entrepreneurship; Business viability

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