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Enterprise across the digital divide: information systems and rural microenterprise in Botswana


  • Richard Duncombe

    (Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester, UK)

  • Richard Heeks

    (Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester, UK)


This paper focuses on the role of information and information-handling technologies within the many rural microenterprises that currently lack access to ICTs. On the basis of field research in Botswana, it finds that poor rural entrepreneurs rely heavily on informal, social and local information systems. While highly appropriate in many ways, these systems can also be constrained and insular. Priorities for breaking this insularity will be greater access to shared telephone services. ICTs may play a supplementary role. They will need to be based in intermediary organizations that can provide complementary inputs of finance, skills, knowledge and other resources. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Duncombe & Richard Heeks, 2002. "Enterprise across the digital divide: information systems and rural microenterprise in Botswana," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(1), pages 61-74.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jintdv:v:14:y:2002:i:1:p:61-74 DOI: 10.1002/jid.869

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Abigail Barr, 1998. "Enterprise performance and the functional diversity of social capital," CSAE Working Paper Series 1998-01, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
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    Cited by:

    1. Paunov, Caroline & Rollo, Valentina, 2016. "Has the Internet Fostered Inclusive Innovation in the Developing World?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 587-609.
    2. Vigneswara Ilavarasan & Mark R Levy, 2010. "ICTs and Urban Microenterprises: Identifying and Maximizing Opportunities for Economic Development," Working Papers id:2819, eSocialSciences.
    3. Ortiz, Oscar & Orrego, Ricardo & Pradel, Willy & Gildemacher, Peter & Castillo, Renee & Otiniano, Ronal & Gabriel, Julio & Vallejo, Juan & Torres, Omar & Woldegiorgis, Gemebredin & Damene, Belew & Kak, 2013. "Insights into potato innovation systems in Bolivia, Ethiopia, Peru and Uganda," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 73-83.
    4. Avgerou, Chrisanthi, 2010. "Discourses on ICT and development," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 35564, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    5. Jonathan Donner & Marcela X. Escobari, 2010. "A review of evidence on mobile use by micro and small enterprises in developing countries," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(5), pages 641-658.
    6. Loening, Josef & Lane, William Leeds, 2007. "Tanzania: Pilot Rural Investment Climate Assessment. Stimulating Nonfarm Microenterprise Growth," MPRA Paper 24824, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Richard Heeks & Shoba Arun, 2010. "Social outsourcing as a development tool: The impact of outsourcing IT services to women's social enterprises in Kerala," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(4), pages 441-454.
    8. World Bank, 2007. "Tanzania - Pilot Rural Investment Climate Assessment : Stimulating Non-Farm Microenterprise Growth," World Bank Other Operational Studies 7798, The World Bank.

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