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Iqbal Quadir

Professor of the Practice of Development and Entrepreneurship, MIT
Founder and Director, Legatum Center at MIT

Iqbal Z. Quadir is a long-time champion of the critical role of entrepreneurship and innovations in creating prosperity in low-income countries. He is an accomplished entrepreneur who, 20 years ago, saw the potential of mobile technology to transform low-income countries.

Quadir realized in the early 1990s that the ensuing digital revolution could facilitate the introduction of telephone access throughout Bangladesh, including its rural areas. To make this vision a reality, he established a New York based company, Gonofone Development Corp (meaning “phones for the masses” in Bengali), and assembled a global consortium of Gonofone, micro-credit pioneer Grameen Bank of Bangladesh, and Norwegian telecommunications company Telenor to create Grameenphone. Grameenphone is now Bangladesh’s leading telecommunications operator providing access to over 50 million subscribers irrespective of their geographic location or economic standing.

From 2001-2004, Quadir was a Fellow and Lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School, 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 in 2007. Quadir founded Emergence BioEnergy to produce decentralized energy, and in 2010 co-founded Money in Motion, a start-up company to provide mobile phone-based banking services. He sits on the Advisory Council of the World Wide Web Foundation.

Quadir’s work and thinking has been cited in nearly 30 books and profiled in publications including The Economist, The New York Times, and the Financial Times. His writing has been published in the Financial Times, Harvard Business Review, Science, Nature, and The Wall Street Journal. He received the prestigious Science, Education and Economic Development award in Bangladesh and was listed as one of 125 Influential People and Ideas for the 125-year celebration of the Wharton School in 2006. He is the recipient of the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Swarthmore College (2011), the honorary Doctor of Science from Case Western Reserve University (2011), and the Russell-Whitehead Business Humanitarian Award presented by the Business Humanitarian Forum Association (2012). He holds both an MBA and an MA from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and a BS with honors from Swarthmore College.