Iqbal Quadir has pioneered technology-based and for-profit entrepreneurship for economic empowerment of low-income people for over 25 years. By synthesizing certain observations—that connectivity plays a critical role in economic empowerment and its costs have been falling dramatically—Quadir started organizing in 1993 what later became known as Grameenphone, a game-changing mobile network operator with about 60 million subscriptions today. In 2009, Quadir started helping his younger brother Kamal Quadir found bKash, a provider of mobile financial services that executes well over a billion financial transactions annually for nearly 28 million customers in Bangladesh.
In order to help the next generation to pursue entrepreneurial for-profit ventures in other low-income countries, he started to teach at Harvard Kennedy School in 2001. Quadir then moved to MIT in 2005, and founded and directed Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship for nearly a decade. He also taught and mentored students as a professor of practice at MIT during that decade. Since its founding, the Legatum Center has prepared 200 MIT student entrepreneurs. In addition, Quadir co-founded Innovations, an MIT Press journal, that has been publishing quarterly for more than a decade with a focus on entrepreneurial solutions to global challenges.