The internet has brought many great changes to our lives. As a communication medium, a place for entertainment and research it’s unparalleled – most of us now even pay our bills and arrange our insurance policies. However the pontential for economic development in some of the poorer nations in the world is perhaps one of the most exciting.
In North America and Europe, the internet already has spawned many thousands of online businesses. Marketers, service industries and retail outlets can all be run either solely or partly online. A market is no longer restricted to a local geographical area, in some senses the internet has genuinely created a global market.
I know a young entrpreneur who sells coffee online. He doesn’t have a shop and merely buys in coffee from various sources and sells it from his website. He adds value by supplying lots of choice and information about the various coffee beans available. His customers are literally in all four corners of the world stretching from Japan to the Outer Hebrides. There are very few restrictions on where he can sell to – in fact local infrstructure of his customers are probably the main restrictions i.e. an unreliable postal service.
There are few reasons why this business could not be run from a developing nation. A web site can be set up very easily, distribution networks are available in most countries and a young internet entrepreneur in a poorer nation can set themselves up with minimal capital.
Unfortunately in some countries artificial obstacles are being created- check this. Despotic or backward looking governments often block and filter the internet due to a variety of reasons. Unfortunately this also stunts the economic potential for it’s citizens. Facebook is an easy place to start selling goods and services but many countries block access to this social networking site for political or religious reasons. Of course these blocks can be circumvented – there are many sites like this http://www.theninjaproxy.org/ which show how to bypass these restrictions using proxy servers and VPNs.
Hopefully this aggressive filtering of the internet will not continue, Governments need to put aside their petty blocks and embrace the incredible opportunities that the internet offers.