Apr 23 - 29, 20

Electronic commerce has totally changed the old trading concepts and market philosophies. SMEs (small and medium enterprises) are now transforming into GSMEs (globalised small and medium enterprises). Local traders are now able to capitalize on a number of business and trading opportunities found on the internet, and geographical barriers no more exist in this global village.

People, living in the Muslim countries, are now becoming self-employed and run their own businesses instead of depending on scarcely available jobs and employment opportunities.

This is the very ecommerce and online virtual trading which requires no affirmative action in order to bring minorities on the front. Similarly, no glass ceiling exists in the internet and trading opportunities are equally open for aspiring businessmen and businesswomen. Even physically-disabled people are equally able to make the most of the trading opportunities offered by ecommerce websites and portals.

For example, various companies and business firms operating in a country like Pakistan have shown some growth in the online trading world but so far almost all of those Muslim countries and nations (including Pakistan), which mainly focus on exports of various commercial items and products, couldn't get considerable results out of trading via online channels unfortunately. There are many reasons behind this economic failure that must be addressed on urgent basis, otherwise any more delay in promoting ecommerce can further push us into the blind alley.

Ecommerce rules the roost. Not only the most developed parts of the world, ecommerce is also serving those of struggling economies of many developing and underdeveloped nations of Asia and Africa. Small and medium enterprises, all over the world, have experienced phenomenal growth, especially in the last decade, and trading via offline channels becoming obsolete gradually.

Apart from offering the speedier transaction processes, ecommerce has also given a true sense of self actualization to SMEs working in any part of the world. The same is true for all the small and medium enterprises working in the Islamic world as they are well-positioned to work globally by utilizing various ecommerce applications and virtual business-to-business platforms. But, currently, we see a rapidly declining participation of Muslim countries into global ecommerce activities, especially in the leading B2B websites and portals.

Most of local SMEs, especially in the African and South Asian countries, are well aware about the significance of ecommerce but still many of them are reluctant in participating in the globally-recognized ecommerce-based websites and B2B portals.

This is mostly due to the fact that these SMEs, belonging to different businesses and manufacturing sectors, are run by those businessmen and entrepreneurs who have extensive experience in conducting business and trading operations via traditional offline channels. Whether there are buyers or suppliers, most of the traders and SMEs operating from the Muslim countries rely upon traditional offline ways of conducting businesses. There has been a frequent usage of internet in the Muslim countries but such usage is mainly restricted to fun-based websites, while a very small percentage of online users from these Muslim countries visit ecommerce websites and business portals.

Though a majority of our Muslim traders exactly know that there is a wide room available in the online world that could bring lots of business to them from the other countries and regions of the world, lowest participation of SMEs into the leading business and ecommerce websites has become a major concern that must be resolved on urgent basis if we are to generate sizeable foreign exchange through international trading.

Operating from the Muslim countries, many small and medium enterprises run their official company websites which are, to be very honest, not enough to mark an effective presence in the virtual world where success only belongs to those who take this wonderful marketing and promotional medium seriously, and utilize all available opportunities that can win them new business and trading from the international clients.

Another thing that holds back SMEs from the Muslim countries to explore global trading opportunities is the severe lack of education about ecommerce and online trading. Most of young SME owners, in the Islamic world, manage to get latest information and knowhow about recent ecommerce trends and applications by their own but none of the college or university here offers special courses in ecommerce separately in any of the Islamic country.

Other than academics, there is also no separate ministry in any of the country found in the Islamic world, solely established for the promotion of ecommerce, while many other non-Muslim countries have formed exclusive ministries for this purpose.

Moreover, essential financial support provided by the commercial banks to SMEs in the Muslim region is the lowest, resulting in discouraging their SMEs to make the most of the global trading opportunities via virtual means.

We have to nurture the local persons in a global incubator in order to create a true business leadership in the Islamic world consisting of its own people who are well equipped with modern technologies and up-to-date knowledge, and know how to uplift their national persona through incomparable dedication to business excellence and multiple industrial competencies. Thanks to hundreds of thousands of SMEs operating from the Muslim world, a new generation comprising entrepreneurs, CEOs, businessmen, and strategic leaders and managers is emerging from the deep waters of Arabian Peninsula and gradually taking over the entire world. The same is also true for those companies originated from Middle East and South Asia. There is just a need to turn the humans into human resources, and polish up the local gems to make them a real star later on.

And by supporting local SMEs, we will make young Muslim generations master of their own destiny reshaping each and every inch of motherland by their all-encompassing abilities and professional expertise, which are beyond compare and absolutely matchless.

Ecommerce is all about promoting global trade. It's neither a rocket science nor any indigestible formula of organic chemistry; it's as simple as ABC. Ecommerce is so easy that anyone from the any region or state can conduct business online; that's why a number of businesses have emerged online in the present decade.

Ecommerce has connected different countries and regions in a way that has brought wonderful results, especially in the overall economic growth and trading of many developing and underdeveloped countries but a few of the countries from the Islamic world really managed to churn out substantial economic growth via various ecommerce channels and online trading mediums.

Traders can reach a large target market effortlessly without investing their hard-earned fortune into marketing and advertising in the international market through conventional channels.

Business deals are settled in a matter of seconds; heavy transactions from one country to another are processed safely within seconds, and consignments delivered systematically. It does entail some risks similar to traditional business mediums but an immediate access to verified buyers and suppliers on leading business portals and websites is another advantage offered by the online trading as compared with traditional forms of conducting business and trading.

Ecommerce is not a monopolized medium of conducting businesses as it is ruled by smart strategists and business planners. Promoting globalization at one side, ecommerce or online global trading reduces gap usually found in the international markets, thus enabling small and medium enterprises stand upon their own feet without worrying about corporate giants, market leaders and economic kingmakers.

Global trading through internet increases opportunities in untapped markets. You don't need to go door-to-door to know the product cost and prices offered by rest of the global companies as one-click access to the entire world round the clock turns your business into a globalised business venture automatically.

Local companies in the Muslim countries need to understand that an immediate access to the cheap labor is not only the incentive you get via trading through virtual channels as there are many other benefits and advantages offered by online trading via ecommerce based websites and business portals.

Ecommerce offers a much broader and easier way to globally trade with rest of the world.

Overall, SMEs operating in the Muslim countries are doing well as far as applying latest, state-of-the-art and modern technologies and business methods are concerned. What we require is their active participation in the online B2B world, which is, definitely, missing unfortunately.

The writer is a PR professional, business analyst, and strategist attached with various international firms as an ecommerce consultant.