Enhancing Market Access in Kenyan SMEs using ICT
Ofafa, G. A.
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Small and Medium Enterpr ises (SMEs) are perceived as the engine of growth in Kenya yet face formidable constraints that hinder them from realising their potential. Limited market access remains a critical constraint to their growth and competitiveness whereas Information and Comm unication Technology (ICT) presents enormous opportunities for improved market access. The aim of this study was to explore opportunities offered by ICT in enhancing market access in Kenyan SMEs and the various ICT tools and applications that can be harnes sed. Exploratory research design was used based on desk research that involved a review of relevant literature and studies. Findings of the study identified limited access to information, poor access to physical markets, stiff competition due to liberaliza tion of markets and globalization, limited market research and analysis, narrow product diversity, weak capacity for e - commerce and high transaction costs as constraints to market access by Kenyan SMEs. Findings also indicate that opportunities exist for S MEs to apply ICT to facilitate communication and access to information, identify markets, for production of innovative quality p roducts, product promotion, to improve transactions, for market research and analysis, to access international markets, for on - l ine selling, for networking and to lower transaction costs. The study recommends awareness creation for ICT use, improvement in ICT literacy levels and infrastructure, development of user friendly relevant ICT programs for SMEs, development of databases fo r SMEs, use of popu lar social sites for marketing ad i nclusion of ICT in SMEs marketing strategies . Keywords : globalization, information and communication technology, market access, small and medium enterprises