THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC: THE INITIATOR FOR DIGITAL INCLUSION OR EXCLUSION OF SMES IN THE BULAWAYO METROPOLITAN PROVINCE, ZIMBABWE

Gwendoline Vusumuzi Nani, Kudakwashe Maguraushe

Abstract


The study examined whether the COVID-19 pandemic had created digital opportunities for Small to Medium Entrepreneurs (SMEs) in the Bulawayo Metropolitan Province, Zimbabwe or it had actually exposed their lack of digital acumen. The interpretivist paradigm, a qualitative descriptive approach and a case study design were adopted for this study. The research used semi-structured questionnaires to solicit data from 30 purposively selected small to medium entrepreneurs. Data were thematically analysed to discern meaning. The study revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic had led participants to embrace technology, as evidenced by their acquisition of technological gadgets. Furthermore, ownership of technological gadgets had facilitated working from home, in the comfort of their homes; reaching clients irrespective of boundaries; having easy access to information on business transactions; the ability to do business even during the pandemic; ordering and ease of payment of suppliers; convenience and flexibility in doing business and discovering business platforms they were not aware of. The study concluded that the COVID-19 pandemic was the initiator for the digital inclusion of SMEs in the Bulawayo Metropolitan Province, after the realisation that for their businesses to remain operational in this uncertain and disruptive environment, they had to embrace technology. The study recommended that workshops to train and equip SME owners with digital skills be conducted so that in the event of other pandemics, their businesses would remain afloat.

 

 

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digital exclusion, digital skills, digital inclusion, SME owners

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.46827/ejmms.v7i4.1317

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