Will e-commerce open new possibilities for entrepreneurs in developing countries, or will it pose new and difficult challenges? In this collection of essays, authors from different disciplines draw on supply chain analysis and industry studies to elucidate how new information and communications technologies -- as epitomised by the mobile phone and the internet -- are affecting the livelihoods of low-income communities and the businesses of small entrepreneurs from Bangladesh to South Africa.
Case studies shed light on these questions in the context of: the world coffee market, where online auctions have yielded price premiums for a handful of growers; the automobile industry where parts procurement is being rationalised and small suppliers squeezed, but a handful of suppliers have found in the internet a tool to link with hitherto inaccessible customers; the textile industry where IT-based procurement and faster product cycles threaten to shut out many developing country suppliers. The general conclusion reached by many of the authors is a sobering one. The internet is not a panacea for low productivity and profitability of developing country enterprises, which owe more to such problems as weak infrastructure, limited managerial know-how and poor quality control, and excessive market distortions. On the other hand, neither can an entrepreneur expect to have a fighting chance in the global marketplace without being wired.
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Electronic Commerce and Development
Available in print (paperback) and electronic format (pdf)
204 pages, OECD, Paris 2002