Small Business Reap From Kenya’s ICT Innovations

Small businesses in Africa often suffer huge set backs by lack of the needed finances to efficiently run their small enterprises. Having a system that manages the business such as accounts, payroll, and business transactions is not always possible due to its high cost. However, a new application through OpenWorld run by Geoffrey Kamau could help change this. This new application built upon open source software can help small businesses in Africa become more efficient in an affordable way. OpenWorld allows small businesses to move away from paper usage in their businesses, such as book keeping and payroll management. Utilizing the platform known as OpenBusiness that runs on the cloud, small businesses can subscribe monthly through a small fee, of around $7.50 USD, enabling them to manage employees, payroll, accounts, online sales, tax and point of sales through the platform. Before, this could cost up to several thousand dollars, but now small businesses can pay monthly at a low price to access the same software and manage their business. This will also allow small businesses to run consumer royalty schemes that were only available through big retailers like Uchumi, Naivas, and etc that charged small businesses more than they can afford. For example now, barbershops no longer have to keep track of customers’ visits through a handwritten notebook, but through the automated OpenBusiness. This allows small businesses in Africa to become more efficient and encourages formalization of the informal economy. This new tool was revealed at the AITEC East Africa ICT Summit in Kenya this month, hopefully utilization of the tool would be widespread soon. Optimistically, with this new ICT that is both affordable and easy to use, small businesses can become more efficient and expand, helping the developing economies in Africa.

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3 responses to “Small Business Reap From Kenya’s ICT Innovations

  • cgalley

    This sounds like a great program! I love that the app is being marketed and sold to developing world entrepreneurs- that means there will probably be a much higher value placed on the tool than if it were a handout. My main concern is that since the majority of the poorest populations are in remote rural areas with little cell phone coverage, and since smartphones are not widely accessible yet, the number of small business owners who can buy in and benefit may be limited.

  • ewaller11

    I agree with the concern expressed above me. Does the software also have components for e-billing, etc? Does the application account for the fact that a lot of the employees probably wouldn’t have access to a bank account for a direct deposit system? I wonder how many people could actually benefit from this kind of application.

  • Paige Boetefuer

    This seems like a great use of open source and ICT4D. However, are we being too optimistic? While it is great to support new projects and innovative ideas, we have to recognize that many ICT projects fail because they are unrealistic and do not take limitations into consideration. The comments above touch on great points that may lead this project to fail. Are there any other possible limitations to this project? Do you know if stakeholders were including in discussions throughout the development of this application? I think having the target population be a part of conversation from the beginning is essential to avoiding possible failings.

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