Role of product range, network associations and marketing strategies in business performance of textile handicraft traders in Nairobi, Kenya
Oigo, Elizabeth B.
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Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) are important for poverty reduction, employment creation and economic development of countries. Various government agencies and non government organizations offer training, microfinance and market facilitation services to help enhance the business performance of MSEs. This study focused on the textile handicraft sub-sector in Nairobi, Kenya to provide current data for use in policy making. The objectives of the study were as follows: to describe the socio-economic characteristics and product range of the handicraft traders. To determine the organizations and networks that the traders belonged to and what services they provided to the traders. To establish the customer base, market outlets and marketing strategies used by traders. To establish the business performance of textile handicraft traders then determine the differences in business performance of textile handicraft traders associated with selected variables. A cross sectional survey was done of 231 textile handicraft traders at four ‗Maasai Markets‘ (weekly open-air markets where traders sell their wares). The instruments used were an interview guide and observation checklist. Further in-depth interviews of ten traders were done to complement and verify trends observed in the survey. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize the following independent variables: socio economic characteristics, marketing strategies, membership in BDS organizations or trader networks and the services that these organizations offered to traders. Chi- square test was used to analyze differences between proportions of men and women traders for each independent variable. Independent samples t-tests, one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and Pearson Product-Moment Correlation (r) were used to analyze the differences between selected variables and the dependent variable business performance. Hypotheses were tested at p < 0.05 alpha level of significance. This research established there were statistically significant differences between business performance and the following variables: level of education, product range, membership to trader networks and organizations; marketing strategies; and savings and loan services received from organization or trader networks. Analysis found statistically significant differences between men and women with regard to location of business (X2 = 11.87, p<0.001). The study concluded that handicraft traders with post secondary education (F (3,211) = 7.27, p<0.05), membership (t (210) = 3.122, p<0.05) and services (t (213) = 5.21, p<0.05) from trader networks/organizations have higher business performance. Exporting products (t (212) = 6.63, p<0.05), advertising (t (210) = 9.23, p<0.05) and employing salespersons (F (3,209) = 9.996, p<0.05) are also associated with increased business performance. In addition, stocking unique products (F (2,212) = 46.64, p<0.05) and selling them in curio shops, hotels and trade fairs, as opposed to relying only on Maasai markets, increases business performance of traders (t (201) = 6.97, p<0.05). The recommendations based on these findings are that BDS organizations and government agencies need to provide services to the textile-based handicraft sub sector. The services include training in product innovation and building a handicraft market with full infrastructure to enhance the proximity of traders to customers and BDS providers. Facilitation of traders in export marketing and provision of specialized services targeting women will also enhance the business performance of textile handicraft traders