ICTs have been claimed to potentially have an impact on the livelihood strategies of small-scale enterprises and local entrepreneurs in the following areas:
Natural Capital; opportunities for accessing national government policies.
Financial Capital; communication with lending organizations, e.g. for microcredit.
Human Capital; increased knowledge of new skills through distance learning and
processes required for certification.
Social capital; cultivating contacts beyond the immediate community.
Physical capital; lobbying for the provision of basic infrastructure.
Small-scale entrepreneurs in developing countries, especially women, have shown the ability to harness ICTs for developing their enterprises. A group of ladies in Kizhur village Pondicherry decided they wanted to start a small business enterprise
manufacturing incense sticks. They began as sub-contractors but their confidence and enterprise grew as a result of utilising the local telecentre. As a result of some searches by the telecentre operators, they were able to develop the necessary skills for packaging and marketing their own brand name incense. The ladies were quickly able to develop local outlets for their products and they are confidently using the telecentre to seek out more distant customers.
In Gujarat, computerized milk collection centres are helping ensure fair prices for small farmers who sell milk to dairy cooperatives. The fat content of milk used to be calculated hours after the milk was received; farmers were paid every 10 days and had to trust the manual calculations of milk quality and quantity made by the staff of cooperatives.
Farmers often claimed that the old system resulted in malfeasance and underpayments, but such charges were hard to prove. Computerized milk collection now increases transparency, expedites processing, and provides immediate payments to farmers .
ICT and e-commerce are attractive to women entrepreneurs (who in many developing countries account for the majority of small and medium-size enterprise owners), allowing them to save time and money while trying to reach out to new clients in domestic and foreign markets. Success stories in business-to-consumer (B2C) retailing or e-retailing are heard from all developing-country regions, demonstrating how women have used the Internet to expand their customer base in foreign markets while at the same time being able to combine family responsibilities with lucrative work. However, in spite of the publicity given to e-retailing, its scope and spread in the poorer parts of the world have
remained small, and especially women working in micro-enterprises and the informal sector are far from being in a position to access and make use of the new technologies.
India Shop is an Internet based virtual shopping mall selling Indian handicrafts,
established by the Foundation of Occupational Development (FOOD) in Chennai. The initiative involves e-marketers who promote the goods over the Internet, through chatrooms and mail lists. They work from a computer, either at home or in a cyber café, and draw commissions on the sales that they achieve. The e-marketers respond to sales enquiries and liase with the craftspeople, typically exchanging multiple e-mails with clients before sales are closed. There are more than 100 people marketers, earning between Rs2,000-Rs10,000 per month.