An assessment of factors influencing the growth of E-business: the case of Meru Municipality Kenya
The purpose of this study was to assess the factors influencing the growth of e-business in Kenya, with focus on Meru Municipality. This study sought to find out the extent to which government regulations, cost of internet, internet infrastructure, level of lCT skills and social Icultural factors have influenced the growth of e- business in Kenya. In order to fulfill this purpose five research questions were developed. These included re search questions like: How has the government reguJations influenced the growth of e-busincss in Meru Municipality, Kenya? To what extent does the existing lCT infrastructure influenced the growth of e-business in Meru Municipality, Kenya? How has the cost of internet technology influenced the growth of e-business in Meru Municipality, Kenya?, just to mention a few. The study used descriptive and qualitative methods. Primary data (field research) was obtained through closed and open ended questionnaires. Questionnaires were administered to selected respondents who were categorized into two groups: namely persons who transact ebusiness and managers of e-business enterprises. In-depth interviews were carried out also in order to close gaps left out by the use of questionnaires. Pre-testing of questionnaires was done with a few respondents in order to debug them just before distribution. Data collected was analyzed using SPSS (Statistical Package for Social Sciences) techniques and provided description and explanations of the problem at it's current status. Stratified random sampling techniques were used to collect data from 60 respondents sampled from a target population of 707 persons. Data collected was analyzed and finally summarized using tables, figures and percentages. Descriptive analysis based on stated objectives was done. The findings indicated that majority of those engaged in e-business are below 40 years. They are well educated people and only a small group had primary education. Much of the e businesses were within the municipality and engaged in retail business services. The findings also pointed out that e-business should be made accessible, affordable and reliable. It was acknowledged by the respondents that government regulations were to an extreme extent influencing the growth of e-business positively. In Meru municipality, respondents felt that the social-cultural factors had a minimal influence on the growth of e-business. The findings indicated that lCT knowledge and skills was not a big problem in relation to the growth of e- business. Finally respondents strongly agreed that high set up costs were some of the constraints facing the growth of e-business, The findings also found that, the existing infrastructure is inadequate and does not support the growth of e-business effectively. Majority of the respondents regarded the cost of acquiring leT hardware and software, running and maintenance of e-business to be high. The findings also revealed that e-business was on relatively high demand. Some of the recommendations are that e-businessshould be included in the school curriculum; primary, secondary and post secondary institutions in order to create awareness of opportunities available in e-businesses, The ministry of trade and industrialization should initiate e-business awareness campaign similar to 'Jitihada' business plan competition so that Kenyans can be sensitized on e-business opportunities. The existing e-business structures should be strengthened to support growth of e-business and the government should form a committee to oversee the delivery of e-business initiatives and investments, and finally municipal councils should come up with by-laws that are e-business friendly. Further research should be carried out to profile the market potentials which can be profitably exploited both in urban and the rural areas. Further research can also be carried out to shed more light on howe-business adoption process is taking root because, it is a business model which has the capacity to change the course of our entire social order.