Access and use of ICT in female - owned SMEs in selected Arab Countries and Brazil: A comparative study
This research paper aims to present a comparative empirical study, to investigate the impact that ICT plays on empowering women entrepreneurs in 5 developing/ emerging countries, namely Egypt, Jordan,Morocco, Algeria, and Brazil. The World Bank's Investment Climate Assessment Surveys (ICA), are the primary source for data, for the four Arab countries, and Brazil.
The ICA database provides comparable enterprise level data based on similar sampling techniques. The results obtained from the empirical study reveal that in the selected Arab countries, the increase in female owned SMEs is associated with a decrease in the Internal Rate of Return. However, when we control for ICT in terms of ICT index constructed using the Principal component analysis technique (PCA), the female owned SMEs becomes statistically insignificant, as well as the ICT index. This implies that IRR is negatively associated with the female owners of the SME, and there is a no association between IRR and the access and use of ICT. In Brazil, however, neither gender nor ICT played any role in the profitability of SMEs. However, as for the other measure for economic performance, namely the labor intensity, the findings reveal that in the selected Arab countries, the ICT index has a positive, statically significant, association with labor - intensity, while in Brazil the usage of a Website has a negative, statistically significant, association with the labor - intensity.