The Mobile Phone Store Ecologyin a Mumbai Slum Community:Hybrid Networks for Enterprise

We report on an ethnographic study of mobile stores’ business practices in a

slum community in Mumbai. The basic mobile phone store that sells small

“talktime” (the period of billing per call) is graduating to repair, formatting,

and maintenance of phone hardware and software. Central to this process of

store expansion and skill building is the store entrepreneur. He forges relations

with procurement channels and mediating agents, renewing existing ties and

expanding business loops by interweaving social and business networks. We

refer to these aggregations as “hybrid networks,” and we highlight their maintenance

as a critical resource governing enterprise potential.

By evoking the ecology of the mobile phone business in an urban slum

setting, the paper draws attention to the following concepts: 1) the unique

potential of ICTs as an entrepreneurial commodity, 2) the micro- and small

enterprise (MSE) as a functional model for local technology immersions, and

3) local social networks as pivotal in expanding technology adoption and

aligning with the needs of the low-income consumer. In essence, we locate

the small mobile phone store as the site of convergence for the commercial

expansion of mobile phone technology.

In  Information Technologies and International Development

Details

TypeArticle
URLhttp://itidjournal.org/itid/index
Pages51-65
Volume16
Number2
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