Ndiege, J.R.A., Mwaura, L.M. & Christopher, F. Forthcoming 2023, Technology for Resilience amid COVID-19 Pandemic: Narratives from Small Business Owners in Kenya. The Electronic Journal Of Information Systems In Developing Countries, 89, 5, 1-15
he COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of the economy. The situation has notably been more challenging for small businesses in developing countries which tend to operate with limited funding and a lack of social and human capital. In these contexts, technology has been argued to be an important resource to allow businesses to adapt and recover from the crisis. In line with this narrative, the pandemic has been linked to growing technology adoption within small firms in developing countries. However, little is known about how small businesses are using such technology as part of strategies: to survive, reposition themselves in the market and potentially “spring back” from the pandemic to thrive in a fundamentally changed environment.
In this study, to fill this gap we look to the concept of resilience to examine how technology was adopted to help build resilience. The study focused on small businesses in Kenya and uses in-depth qualitative analysis to unpack the processes of adoption and use.
The study findings suggest that the pandemic created an incentive for many small businesses to engage with digital technology, enabling them to stay operational. The study evidenced specific coping strategies that incorporated technology to support resilience, including exploiting demand, acquiring new capabilities, expanding existing capacities, making data-driven decisions, fostering social networks and freezing operations.
Consequently, we argue for the need to unpack the processes of technology adoption and the links between technology and economic growth in such settings. During the pandemic, small businesses have typically adopted technology to build resilience appropriate to their context.