Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Turning Scars into Stars in the Knowledge-Based Economy: A Case of M-PESA Women Empowerment Initiative in Rural Tanzania

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Turning Scars into Stars in the Knowledge-Based Economy: A Case of M-PESA Women Empowerment Initiative in Rural Tanzania

Article excerpt

1.Introduction

Knowledge is increasingly becoming important in almost all economic affairs all around the globe (Pyka and Hanusch, 2006). Progressively, technology and the knowledge are used in production and in economic development (UNPA, 2009). Today's global economy is in transition to a knowledge economy (Andrew, 2011). Many countries including the U.K., United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bangladesh, India, Qatar, and Malaysia are moving towards a Knowledge-Based Economy (KBE). Similarly, in Africa, countries like Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Botswana, and Tanzania are in a transition to KBE (Ntale et al., 2013; Omar, 2013; Imiefoh, 2012; Aswad et al., 2011; Andrew, 2011; Utz, 2006; Blumen, 2003). However, a preliminary picture of Tanzania's overall readiness or preparedness for the Knowledge-Based Economy according to the Knowledge Economy Index (KEI) shows that, just like many African countries, it is placed at the lower end of the global KE map (with a KEI of 1.67). Although between 1995 and the most recent period a substantial improvement has been made, it is not as impressive relative to what is happening in other countries like Uganda, Kenya, Botswana and South Africa (Utz, 2006). The use of existing knowledge can help organizations do things better (Utz, 2006). With KBE enabling technology, small loans and financial services the poor women are helped to start self-sustaining businesses (GFUSA, 2005 cited in Miard, 2007). For example, by using cellular technology farmers and other producers the majority of whom were women distanced from larger markets are enabled to connect to the knowledge flows of the extended order, e.g., a city market. For those in search of the best price for supplies and the best markets for their output, the technology often pays for itself, cutting down transportation costs by hours or even days and speeding up response time to fleeting market opportunities (Gillwald, 2005). Despite these, rural women who are the major producers are still marginalized, a disadvantaged group and more vulnerable to poverty because of their weaker basis of entitlements while at the same time, they bear a disproportionate burden of responsibilities and costs associated with the care of family members (Miard, 2007; Crook, 2003). Therefore, maximising the participation of women as the national workforce in the transformation process to the knowledge-based economy is crucial (Aswad et al., 2011).

2.Literature review

In the knowledge economy, the economies are not of scarcity, but rather of abundance. Unlike most resources that become depleted when used, information and knowledge can be shared and actually grow through application (Olssen and Peters, 2005; Peters, 2004). The effect of location is either diminished, in some economic activities: using appropriate technology and methods, virtual marketplaces and virtual organization that offer benefits of speed, agility, round the clock operation and global reach can be created and key technologies, such as Information and Communication Technology (ICT) play a decisive role in the development processes. Industries that apply and improve these technologies are in the center of interest of financiers, politicians, industrial actors and in particular for creative entrepreneurs (Pyka and Hanusch, 2006). Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) are enabling technologies of a KBE. They are vital tools for women and knowledge workers, allowing them to take full advantage of technology's capacity to access, manipulate and process information (Tocan, 2012). ICTs offer women entrepreneurs new opportunities to strengthen their businesses. Through mobile phones, computers, radio, TV, the Internet and social media, women entrepreneurs are accessing information, resources and reaching out to customers in ways they could not do before. Effective use of ICTs helps women entrepreneurs to overcome many challenges they face (ILO, 2013) in the course of doing business including inaccessibility to market information and data in local and wider markets; inaccessibility to different distribution channels and logistics; inadequate training and knowledge for business optimisation and growth, inaccessibility to finance and credit to expand and grow their business sustainably. …

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