In September 2005, the project held an international knowledge-sharing workshop in Kerala, India on "Developing Women's ICT-Based Enterprise".
You can obtain a Word version of the workshop report by clicking here.
Photographs of the event can be seen by clicking here.
The Executive Summary of the report follows:
This report presents the findings from an international workshop on "Developing Women's ICT-Based Enterprise" attended by 38 participants from South Asia, South-East Asia, Southern Africa, East Africa, Central America and the Caribbean. The report is divided into four main parts:
· An overview which describes the emerging reality of IT sector enterprises being run by women in developing countries which are delivering direct developmental benefits from use of ICTs; something that many "e-development" projects fail to do.
· A report on the large-scale creation of IT sector enterprises by poor women in Kerala State, India. The report reviews the supportive context of Kerala state; the nature, history and work of these IT sector enterprises; and a set of lessons learned from field visits to two of these enterprises.
· The findings of a set of group knowledge-building activities that provided new ideas on how to get support from sponsors for women's IT enterprise projects; on how to support such projects with handbook resources; and on key challenges – and their solutions – for such projects.
· Pointers are provided to a set of case presentations of women's IT enterprises from Southern Africa and India, from which a set of overarching issues are drawn out.
This report ends with details of the workshop timetable, with delegate evaluation – offering ideas for those wishing to run similar events – and with acknowledgements for the workshop which was funded by the UK Department for International Development; organised by IDPM, University of Manchester and the University of Kerala; and supported by Kudumbashree, the Kerala State Poverty Eradication Mission.
There are many learning points provided in this report, including good practice suggestions. A few overarching points can be noted here:
· Women's IT sector enterprises – data entry, cybercafes, IT training, hardware assembly, Web design, etc. – are already a reality in all developing countries, including many enterprises involving women from poor families.
· Unlike e-government, e-health and similar projects which often fail or deliver only peripheral benefits, these enterprises show how ICTs can directly deliver fundamental development benefits – jobs, incomes, skills and empowerment – including delivering such benefits direct to poor communities.
· Initial support can be crucial for such enterprises but there are many models for such support – from government, from the private sector, from NGOs. And many women's IT enterprises are being set up without external support.
· One important emerging model is the developmental use of IT outsourcing from government. Traditionally, governments have developed a large in-house IT function or have outsourced their purchasing of IT goods and services to the existing private sector; often to multinational subsidiaries. Now, there is a "third way": outsourcing data entry, digitisation, hardware/software purchase, IT training, computer servicing and maintenance, etc. to "social enterprises" such as cooperative IT enterprises created by poor women.
· Every situation has unique features but Kerala's initiative with women's IT sector enterprises shows what can be achieved: from a standing start five years ago, it now has over 200 such enterprises employing 4,000 previously-unemployed women from below-poverty-line families.
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.
http://www.womenictenterprise.org/workshop.htm October 2005