Grameen Bank, famous for pioneering micro-credit programs in Bangladesh, has launched a new idea to empower the poor: arming beggars with mobile phones so they can sell a roving service for cash.

“Beggars are the one group so far left out of the bank’s lending program and they deserve to be part of our network,” said Dipal Chandra Barua, deputy managing director of Grameen Bank

The bank, a brainchild of renowned Bangladeshi professor Mohammad Yunus, has been awarded many international awards for helping millions of poor with small loans to start income-generating programs, such as poultry and cattle breeding, and handicraft-making, and also helping to educate their children.

“Lives of these people have dramatically changed with each of the borrowers becoming self-reliant in a few years and living a decent life in their rural surroundings,” he told Reuters Saturday.

“Now for the beggars,” said Barua.

Beggars would need to be a member of a Grameen Bank project to be eligible to get a mobile phone. Each mobile phone will cost them 8,500 taka ($143), repayable over two years in interest-free installments. They also are responsible for paying a subsidized monthly service charge of 152 taka.

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