In Cameroon, rural communities account for 45 percent of the total population and 87 percent of the people living in poverty. The half of the population living in rural areas is isolated and particularly vulnerable to poverty and health issues.
- Thirty-three percent of Cameroon’s population lives on less than US $1.25 a day
- The life expectancy is 50 years
- Health issues include malaria and HIV/AIDS (5.1 percent of the population aged 15-49 is HIV positive)
Tontines, a traditional form of microfinance, have existed in Cameroon for more than a century; however, a formal microfinance sector did not emerge there until 1963. In the past decade, there has been a sudden proliferation of financial institutions, especially in the microfinance industry, but they serve less than five percent of the Cameroon’s poor population.
Grameen Foundation consulted with MTN Cameroon, a local phone company, to develop Village Phone Cameroon. The Village Phone program launches mobile phone businesses that allow local people to sell air time to local villagers. Since its inception in December 2008, Village Phone Cameroon has created more than 1,100 phone businesses that now connect rural areas to family and other vital information sources.