Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the driving force of industrial development in virtually all countries. They shape the economic globalization process and play a leading role in creating employment, income and value added services as well as being the seedbed for developing and testing entrepreneurial talent.
The challenge in many developing countries is to combine the SMEs’ employment potential with increasing productivity. To prosper, SMEs need an environment that facilitates growth, including easy access to business information and ICT.
When used by small businesses, ICT can:
- Spur innovation and entrepreneurship
- Increase productivity and efficiency of business operations
- Provide relevant business development services
- Facilitate linkages to local, regional and international markets
- Enable access to new technologies and sources of finance
In most developing countries, however, the SME sector is suffering from inadequate ICT access. ICT penetration is low, expensive and ICT services are not provided in an integrated manner. Barriers to SMEs include:
- Lack of affordable access to ICT due to high costs of quality hardware software and broadband Internet
- Lack of ICT knowledge, basic ICT literacy and computing skills
- Lack of tailor made ICT solutions that meet local needs