My Kyrgyz cab driver sent an IPhone to his brother back home in Kyrgyzstan. The brother sold the phone, added some savings of his own and bought a car.
So the short answer to title is: by selling the phone.
Which leads us to the next question in your mind, how can the prices of a phone & a car be comparable? It can if you consider the following facts:
PART A ( The economic background of Kyrgyzstan)
- Kyrgyzstan is primarily a cash only economy – credit cards don’t exist, banks don’t give out loans.
- So if you have to buy a TV or car or even a house – you need to pay it by cash. Upfront. The whole amount.
- Most people can’t.
- So the economy is controlled in a manner that prices stay within reasonable limits.
PART B (Influx of Western Companies into such a market)
- As part of globalization/westernization people seek to have what they see on TV.
- A rich few are ready to pay any unreasonable amount for the satisfaction of owning something.
- Not using – owning.
- Which works very well for the companies selling them.
- Such commodities e.g. IPhone are shipped over.
- Add in something like a 500% markup, 4-5 different taxes.
- Since you are importing it all, the prices get multiplied by the prevailing exchange rate.
Combine PART A & PART B – and you can imagine the price of an IPhone come close to that of a car. Takes some imagination & suspension of disbelief.
At this point I should say, I am no expert and this came out of a random chat with a random cab driver – but I dug around a little and read a bit and all of it does seem logical.
Here are some less extreme examples that we can identify with.
- There are sunglasses in the market at a price for which you can buy a TV and then some.
- A cup of coffee in Starbucks in India costs more than a bus ticket.
- There are watches(Swiss of course) which you can sell and buy a couple of decent used cars.
- For the price of a couple of Italian suits, you can book a round the world air ticket.
My comparisons are definitely not on on the same scale of style or proficiency.
But how grand and invigorating a coffee has to be, that you could go to a different city for the same price? Can a handcrafted engineering of a fine watch ever compare to that of an automobile? Granted it loses just one second over 50 years.
All we pay for is our vanity. I have done the same. I do the same. Heck, probably I spend a lot more at times just in the hope I am getting a better cocktail or steak. I understand paying for the quality, paying for the artistry and the talent that goes behind the design of simple products even if it was a belt or a sock.
But while stepping out of the cab all that was on my mind was the disparity of prices in the same market. I was wondering if there was another country somewhere, where you could buy a car for the price of a super luxurious, extra fine handkerchief.