Women's IT Sector Enterprises

Case Study No. 6


Women's Collaboration at the University of Ibadan Business Centre, Nigeria

 

Case Study Author

Dr Olatunde B. Akanbi olatunde_akanbi@yahoo.co.uk

 

Enterprise History

This ICT-based enterprise at the University of Ibadan is a centre in the university where women are provided space for their own data processing machines to serve the university community: students, academic staff, non-academic staff, professionals and visitors. The typing pool (as it is generally known) started a long time ago when data used to be processed with machines such as IBM manual and electric typewriters. But by the late 1980s and early 1990s, a lot of the women that were engaged in the business started acquiring personal computers, printers, scanners and so on to meet their customers' demands for better data processors.

 

Currently the Business Centre houses about 45 self-employed women, each with her own (second-hand) computer and printer which typically would have cost her about US$300. This money comes from various sources including proceeds from previous business, sale of shares and loans from credit societies.

 

Enterprise Profile

The work is essentially data entry, especially word processing a variety of documents such as students' project work and academic documents, and printing them. However, other data entry work is undertaken including entry in spreadsheets, presentation software, and statistical software plus graphics and typsetting work. The software used is Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, plus Corel draw, Printartist and SPSS.

 

The women have varied ethnic and educational backgrounds. Some have training in data processing and desktop publishing, others have training in secretarial studies and one has a national diploma in secretarial studies. Some are unmarried while others are married with children.

 

All the women have equal status except that one is identified as President of the Centre to help ensure smooth running and abiding by the rules. There are no other officers. Each woman manages her own separate business.

 

Enterprise Performance

Overall profit in 2004 is estimated at US$560-830 per woman but sales value and volume are not known as this information is not collated. Each charges the established set rate for the work i.e. US$0.21 per page typed, and US$0.07 per page printed. The women work six days a week from 8am to 6pm except during breaks or industrial action by academic staff. Each pays a flat rate of US$14 per month to the university to cover electricity, rent, security etc. Their monthly income is in the range US$50-70. No subsidy is provided.

 

Five more women work in the Business Centre than did in 2002. The number of academics and students who have their own PCs is increasing but still there is only around one PC per 100 students in the university. Indeed there has been a small growth in the volume of work undertaken by the centre since 2002.

 

Main Success Factors

1.      Hard work

2.      Job quality

3.      Punctuality

The client base is very large and during peak periods people beg to get their projects typed. In slow periods when the clients have some choice then the above factors, plus lesser issues like being good at interacting with clients, make a difference.

 

Main Benefits for Women

1.      The opportunity to earn a good monthly salary of between US$50 and US$70, which they are then able to use for short-term benefits such as directly supporting their families, and for longer-term benefits such as their children's education and reinvesting in their data entry business.

2.      They have also acquired ICT-related skills and experience.

 

Main Negative Impacts or Risks

1.      The unreliability of the electricity supply.

2.      Slack periods of reduced income during holidays and break periods when the client base is reduced but the university is still open.

 

Good Practice in Management

1.      As far as individual women are concerned efficiency and neatness of the work.

2.      The fact that the informal role of President has been created despite their being no formal organisational name or structure for the business centre. This helps ensure the women follow the rules of the centre which ensure its smooth running.

 

Main Challenges

As for Main Negative Impacts or Risks above

 

Case Photograph

 

Case Details

Author Data Sources/Role: Enterprise User Role

Region: West Africa Start Date: 1980s Submission Date: April 2005


The "Women's ICT-Based Enterprise for Development" project is coordinated by the University of Manchester's Institute for Development Policy and Management. The project is funded by the UK Department for International Development's Knowledge and Research programme.

 

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 http://www.womenictenterprise.org/ibadan.htm August 2005