This study was conducted to determine if and how craft producers in less
developed countries can take advantage of the Internet and e-commerce to
sell their goods and so benefit their families and communities. It
looked at both new business opportunities created by the Internet for
craft producers, as well as how Internet and related technology can
enhance existing supply chains, making key stages more efficient.
The main activities focused on capturing the experiences to date of
actual producers in India and Bangladesh; to assess their felt needs,
and to present groups with options to enable them to use the Internet
and e-commerce for sustainable development of small businesses.
It was found that the giftware and handicraft market overall is growing,
but that ATOs and the fair trade supply of craft products is losing
ground to commercial interests. E-commerce, which herald a number of
opportunities, is also constrained by barriers, and these factors favour
the existing major players in the market rather than SMEs.
Interviews with producers in India and Bangladesh showed that even they
were aware of the significant barriers. The recommendations therefore
have made a few practical suggestions concerning entry into e-commerce,
but have advised caution and discouraged over-optimism. Any intervention
seeking to encourage fair trade production of handicrafts must consider
the overall business and livelihood system, in which the introduction of
ICT and e-commerce is just one small element.
In order to redress this perhaps disappointing and negative picture, the
report has suggested a few future opportunities that build on the
strengths and distinctives of the existing fair trade handicraft sector.
Gamos Ltd, Reading, UK, 183 pp.
E-commerce options for Third World craft producers. Final technical report.