26 September 2017
Monash University and Victoria University are the proud recipients of an Australia Awards Fellowship Grant of over $188,000 for 2018, for their project ‘Using mobile devices to address disadvantage among Vietnamese small businesses’.
Adjunct Associate Professor Graeme Johanson and Dr Misita Anwar of the Centre for Organisational and Social Informatics have researched the usefulness of mobiles for many years among entrepreneurs and disadvantaged groups.
Colleagues from Victoria University, Dr Scott Bingley, Honorary Professor Stephen Burgess, and Dr Carmine Sellitto bring very extensive expertise in the use of mobile devices for small business, and prior success in a related project in Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.
The grant will be used to develop the skills of twelve selected Fellows from universities, government, NGOs and private enterprise in Vietnam. They will be empowered to assist women to use mobile devices in order to successfully operate small businesses. The main activity is an intensive, three-week incubator at Victoria University in Melbourne in July, which will demonstrate how mobile devices can reduce barriers to small business operations for women, especially those with disabilities, and improve business performance. The program will include knowledge sharing from academics and discipline experts and visits to successful female small business operators. Fellows will return home to share acquired knowledge with their counterparts, to be disseminated in their local context via courses for women and through influencing government policy. They will add to a knowledge base using local experiences and engage with existing supportive networks locally and in the region.
Mobile devices assist women entrepreneurs through interactive capabilities and ubiquitous ease of access (providing flexibility in time and location of work). For those with disabilities (e.g., blind masseurs) personalised support such as ‘apps’ can offer visual enhancement of text or translation of text into sound. From prior research we know that small businesswomen use mobile devices to manage and monitor family commitments first and foremost, then use the devices for improving their businesses in a range of ways. The program will help to address family demands and social and physical disadvantage which might inhibit women’s participation in their local economy.
The Australia Awards Fellowships offer Australian organisations, from all sectors, the opportunity to deepen and broaden their links with leaders and professionals in developing countries.
They are an Australian government initiative administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Department of Education and Training, and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. Australia Awards are provided as part of Australia’s overseas aid program.
Dr Misita Anwar, Centre for Organisational and Social Informatics.
For more information about the project, contact Dr. Scott Bingley, Scott.Bingley@vu.edu.au