Gender Differences in ICT Use Among Small Business Owners in Ghana

Gender Differences in ICT Use Among Small Business Owners in Ghana

Alice Etim (Winston Salem State University, USA), David N. Etim (University of Connecticut, Storrs, USA) and George Heilman (Winston Salem State University¸ Winston-Salem, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/IJICTRAME.2019010101

Abstract

In the last two decades, microfinance institutions across regions have helped to financially build small businesses in areas of disadvantaged populations. The efforts in providing entrepreneurs with small non-collateralized loans (or micro-loans) along with developing cooperative programs for entrepreneurs were reported in earlier studies as being helpful in alleviating some borrowers from extreme economic poverty. However, early warning signals were raised about whether microfinance institutions were benefiting themselves more than the poor. This article assesses the differences in attitudes toward the use of information and communication technology among small business owners in Ghana that have access to micro-loans. The findings indicate significant differences between interest payers and interest non-payers based on region of the country, age, education, and membership in an entrepreneurship program.
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1. Introduction

In this decade, writers are asking questions like the following about the viability of micro-loans and credit:

  • 1.

    Is microfinance really for the poor?

  • 2.

    How can micro and small enterprises in Sub-Saharan Africa become productive (Mano, 2012)?

  • 3.

    Does microfinance still hold promise for reaching the poor (Cull, 2015)?

In a World Bank extensive field research study on whether Microfinance still held promise in reaching the poor, the findings as reported by Cull (2015) were:

  • Micro-loans had modest benefits

  • Commercial microfinance was not likely to reach those that were described as the “poorest of the poor”

  • Other forms of microfinance like micro-savings, micro-insurance may help to provide financial inclusion

  • The alternative delivery methods and channels like the use of information and communication technology (ICT) for microfinance delivery held promise for the poor who had access and could facilitate faster financial inclusion

This paper looks at small businesses with micro-loans and the use of ICT as a delivery method. The use of ICT for microfinance services is relatively new in many countries of Sub-Saharan Africa including Ghana. In the study that is reported, the authors looked at understanding significant differences in the use of ICT by interest payers and interest non-payers of micro-loans among entrepreneurs in the Greater Accra, Central, Eastern and Western regions of Ghana.

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2. Literature Review

The reach out to disadvantaged communities by Grameen Bank’s micro-loan initiatives in Bangladesh, the ACCION’s BancoSol in Boliva and several others made microfinance institutions in the late 1980s and 1990s to be seen as doing something very important to raise hope and end generational and extreme poverty (Bhatt & Tang, 2001, Smith and Yunus, 2007; Sullivan, 2007; Yunus, 1998).

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