Empowerment of small and medium enterprises through e-commerce and mobile technology in developing countries: a case study of Kenya
E-Commerce continues to grow daily, especially in Kenya, given its benefit of enabling young and small businesses to reach the consumer/ clients faster, simpler and in a more interactive way. There is a need however to evaluate the perceived impact that e-Commerce has on businesses as well as mobile technologies. This study seeks to investigate the ability of e-Commerce platforms in impacting the lives of the Small and Medium entrepreneurs listed/ endorsed on these sites, by looking at various e-Commerce platforms in Kenya. For the purposes of this study, Shop Soko, Bombolulu Workshops, Sasa Designs by the Deaf among others shall be used as case studies of e-Commerce platforms, geared to transforming the lives of various artisans; with specific focus on Shop Soko as a pioneer in the field of mobile technologies as an appendage to e-Commerce in Kenya. The study seeks to find out if these small scale artisans in Kenya, as part of the developing world are really enjoying and experiencing the perceived and expected benefits of e-commerce. Through the use of information from focus group interviews conducted during the research and individual interviews conducted with various stakeholders, one is able to access the degree of growth the industry has attained in impacting the lives of the traders and what still needs to be done. Through the study wholesale buyers from the west have emerged as critical in life cycle of e-commerce revenues for various SMEs in Kenya. The lack of access to technology, resources or e-commerce training continues to stand in the way of maximization of their participation globally. From this study, it is clear that the government still has a lot to do to ensure that ICT is made accessible to its citizens, training for e-commerce to transform Kenya to a first class economy and the enactment of the various policies formulated to ensure that digitization of all sectors of the economy is realized is key. Seeking partnerships (institutional and intergovernmental) to implement e-commerce in business would steer growth and ensure lasting impact.