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E-commerce as an advantage for women entrepreneurs

One of the many benefits of e-commerce is that it can be used to spread awareness to a large mass of audience. It’s always easier to look for target audience online.

It enables them to take women’s entrepreneur’s venture pan India without having to worry about cost overheads, marketing calls and business related meetings & travelling. It is easier to conduct business online as it saves many overhead costs like rent, setting up your retail shop, employing staff & helpers, electricity costs and so on. E-commerce is a cost effective and convenient tool which provides an efficient method to connect buyers and suppliers from around the world without any need of actually traversing the distance.

Self-employed women in the developing world, be they micro entrepreneurs or women working from home, are increasingly turning to e-commerce and the Internet as a way to earn income and save time and costs while also meeting their family responsibilities. The growing business-to-consumer (B2C) or retail sector in their countries offers many possibilities for small businesses with access to information technologies (IT). Such businesses have the advantage of low capital and skills requirements, and many of them are owned by women. Success stories are to be found on every continent. In India, an e-marketplace called IndiaShop has eliminated middlemen in the selling of saris. A nationwide housewives´ network in Peru, Tortasperu, which bakes confectioneries and sells them over the Internet, has generated lucrative work for women taking care of children at home while also providing the country with much-needed foreign exchange. Ethiopia has opened an Internet gift shop that sells traditional costumes, food and spices produced by women. And handmade products made by women artisans in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia are sold through a virtual shop called Elsouk. Such opportunities are particularly significant for women in Asia, where IT-enabled or remote services - business process outsourcing of former back-office operations -- have grown exponentially, and where women head 35% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

But this kind of e-commerce is limited to certain market segments, dictated largely by a country´s infrastructure and trading strength. Commodities like garments and handicrafts cannot be delivered online, and use of the Internet is confined to advertising, ordering and possibly collecting payments, which can be difficult in developing countries that have not yet developed or accepted secure online payments technology. Some women have thus found a market niche in the buying or selling of information rather than tangible goods. At Grameen Phone in Bangladesh, women buy cellphones and provide mobile payphone services in their shops or local markets; freelance women journalists in India and Malaysia deliver their services online.

More promising opportunities for women lie in the business-to-business (B2B) segment of e-commerce, the report finds. The ability to transfer digitized data online, assuming adequate infrastructure and bandwidth, is leading companies in developed and developing countries alike to outsource some business operations to distant and usually cheaper locations. Developing countries that can offer a cheap, skilled computer- and English-literate workforce are the most targeted sites - and that workforce is predominantly female