Understanding informal ICT micro-enterprises in developing countries
What are ICT micro-enterprises: ICTs as the key input for new products and services; less than 1o employees, majority are owner-operator:
- Mobile and media micro-enterprises: handset distirbutors and retailers, airtime and SIM resellers.
- PC and Internet micro-enterprises: goldfarming, LAN houses, PC assembly and reuse.
Informal success relates to niche strategies: niche markets, niche in price, in technology, in arrangements, in customer service…
Micro-enterprises are normally built around networks of enterprises, or ecosystems of ICT micro-enterprises that actually co-operate. Indeed, supply chains are very important in this area.
On the other hand, the sector has some instabilities: the local context, instabilities of technologies, of policies, etc.
A critique to the literature would be that is often focuses on local practices, some small cases, not broad enough scenarios or approaches. We have to see what unique aspects of ICT micro-enterprise over non ICT- micro-enterprises are relevant, and especially relevant in developing countries. And, indeed, how are they related with government policies.
A strong point to consider is the approach on the base-of-the-pyramid and co-creation, in the sense of the uneven relationship between formal and informal, big and micro, etc.
Yet, this is related to another point, which is what is the role of clustering in sustainability, impact, relationships of power, etc.
Modification of ICT in response to instabilities and livelihoods and risk reduction are also approaches to consider.
Ismael Peña-López: what about the non-commercial dimension of ICT micro-enterprises that, like many telecentres do, they also provide a meeting place and other social components? A: It surely can be translated as part of the niche strategies that they design [Definitely :)]
Richard Sleight: how can other organizations be involved in micro-entrepreneurship? A: that is a difficult to answer question. Probably joining clusters, influencing regulation… but it is surely an open question.
Richard Sleight: does it make a difference if the micro-enterprise is the main/sole source of income or if it’s just a part of the income sources? A: There certainly are strategies and tactics to reduce risk and diversify their business models, so it is just possible that different models bring different research results.
Top 7 Reasons Why Most ICT4D fails
Fifth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (2010)
If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:
Peña-López, I. (2010) “Fifth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (XIV). Entrepreneurship and management” In ICTlogy,
#84, September 2010. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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