Low tech is beautiful

The best IT solutions for MSMEs which also benefit large companies

There is a lot of buzz around high tech solutions for doing business in low-income and emerging markets right now. There are some exciting unicorn examples of emerging market business models which use artificial intelligence, blockchain technology or drones to make supply chains more efficient. However, for many businesses in these markets the potential of low tech solutions is much more exiting right now.

These relatively simple solutions, such as online platforms facilitating business links, SMS information services for agribusiness and mobile apps to track logistics, are widely available in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Nevertheless, they remain largely underutilized. This is a missed opportunity in making value chains more effective and more inclusive, thus creating win-wins for small businesses and their multinational business clients, as well as the individuals and communities they serve.

In our new research we focused on IT solutions for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), including smallholder farmers. For enterprises in emerging markets challenges range from accessing market insights and gaining skills to accessing finance. While larger companies have the means to overcome many of these challenges, MSMEs typically face bigger constraints, and generally find it more difficult to succeed.

“The biggest leap for MSMEs comes from low-tech IT solutions that improve access to information, transparency and traceability in value chains, and those that facilitate access to finance and basic services, such as healthcare services and access to energy.“

Together with Fundes, Endeva has scanned available IT solutions that enable MSMEs to grow and become more productive. As production networks span ever more widely across multiple countries, the opportunities to better integrate MSMEs from emerging markets in global value chains are vast. Suppliers, distributors and customers who had previously been isolated can now be accessed relatively easily with the help of these IT solutions.

Click here for an overview IT solutions that make MSMEs more effective and thus facilitate their incorporation in large companies’ value chains.