Ict@innovation: Free your IT Business in Africa/5-3

Module 5.3 Competition, cooperation – coopetition





Delivery method


For instructional purpose, it is advised that trainers/lectures use lectures, role play and group and individual exercises as a major means of delivering this module.



This module introduces terms and concepts around which businesses need to build skills.

Competing in a FOSS business environment


When you base your business on proprietary software, your options will be limited. There will be other companies providing similar products and services, and you will be competing with them. When you base your business around FOSS, the situation is different. There still will be businesses offering products and services similar to your own. But you will be able to choose from a much broader spectrum your ways of dealing with these other companies.

Your attitude towards other FOSS companies which are active in your region will fall somewhere between the poles of competition and cooperation. This middle ground is sometimes called "coopetition" - competition and cooperation at the same time. Coopetition can take many forms. One of these forms is outsourcing inside a network of partners. At least at the beginning, your business will be small. When faced with a large and complex task, you will often not be able to do everything yourself. The solution is to share the work with other firms with different specialisations. You will be letting others do things that you can't (profitably) do yourself . This gives you the ability to take on larger tasks and deals by sharing them with trusted partners from the network

Another (and often related) form of coopetition is sharing costs among members of the network . This can mean sharing marketing expenses and costs for PR work, and building a common image for the network [see www.zeapartners.org]. Taken together, higher revenue (from larger deals) and shared costs lead to higher profits for all partners.

Working in FOSS business netwroks


A business network will also be vital given that many potential clients remain under informed about FOSS and may be skeptical towards this type of software. This means that FOSS businesses must generally make an effort to increase the general acceptance of FOSS. If they succeed in this endeavour, they clearly stand to profit. FOSS business networks take different shapes. Some are centered on a certain piece of software. Others are associations of businesses with a general interest in FOSS. Some associations such as FOSSFA [http://fossfa.net] are engaging in broad FOSS advocacy. This latter type of association is important because it helps to create a climate that is more welcoming towards FOSS. Such advocacy will prepare the ground for your business, and make your clients more receptive to the FOSS solutions you propose. This includes potential customers from both the public and the private sector.

Module 5.3: ASSESSMENT


•Exercise 1: List the companies doing business in FOSS in your country and complete the table below

Country FOSS company Services offered

•Exercise 2: For each country in Exercise 1, state in which service sector competition or cooperation may exist.

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