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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

International Trade Centre (ITC)

1. How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the priorities of your organization? 

For micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, with their scarce resources, surviving the COVID-19 crisis has been daunting. According to ITC’s COVID-19 Business Impact Survey, MSMEs suffered the most from the pandemic, with 60% of micro and 57% of small businesses strongly affected, compared with 43% of large firms. This is partly because smaller firms record lower levels of resilience, on average, than larger companies. Beyond the pandemic, resilience is crucial for facing the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.

Globally, MSMEs account for 60–70% of employment and the majority of new job creation in developing countries. They also tend to employ women, youth, and people from poor and vulnerable communities. MSMEs integrated into international markets are more productive than those that do not participate in international trade.

As a result, the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced ITC’s focus on supporting micro- small and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries to become more internationally competitive. Moreover, the pandemic has sharpened ITC’s objectives to include resilience and sustainability.

In ITC’s Strategic Plan 2022–2025, the organization outlines its vision to help create a world where trade builds inclusive, sustainable and prosperous economies, one where the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic creates resilience and ensures a green transition.

2. In 2020/2021, how has your organization endeavored to support Member States to build back better from COVID-19 while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda? Please select up to three high-impact initiatives to highlight, especially those that address interlinkages among the SDGs. How has your organization cooperated with other UN system organizations in those efforts to achieve coherence and synergies?  

Name SheTrades
Partners ILO, UNDP, UN Global Compact, UN Women, eBay, International Chamber of Commerce, Maersk, Mary Kay, UPS
Relevant SDGs SDGs 1, 5, 8, 17
Member States benefiting from the initiative Argentina, Bangladesh, Cote D’Ivoire, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Uruguay, Vietnam, Zambia, Global
Description There can be no ‘build back better’ for COVID recovery without a focus on achieving gender equality. Women play a major role in the global economy and studies show that advancing women’s economic empowerment could add as much as $28 trillion to global GDP by 2030. Yet only around 20% of exporting companies worldwide are women-owned or women-led. So empowering women economically, especially through their involvement in trade, creates opportunities for everyone. ITC’s SheTrades initiative seeks to connect women entrepreneurs to market. SheTrades works with governments, corporations and business support organizations to undertake research, shape enabling trade policies and regulations, facilitate investment and financing, expand access to public tenders and corporate supply chains, and transform sector-based value chains. At the end of 2021, ITC achieved its objective of connecting 3 million women entrepreneurs to markets. In partnership with the International Chamber of Commerce, UPS and W20, ITC developed a 9 point action plan with steps for governments, corporations and the global community to ensure that “building back better” boosts women’s entrepreneurship. In 2020 ITC released the digital tool “SheTrades Outlook digital”. This tool allows governments and other stakeholders to assess, monitor, and improve the policy ecosystem for women’s economic empowerment. The tool enables cross-country comparisons based on 83 measurable indicators and sharing of good practices. This tool opens up prospects for countries across the world to move towards a more gender-responsive approach to trade which strongly contributes to the fulfilment of the SDGs and the implementation of the Buenos Aires Declaration on Women and Trade.


Name GreenToCompete
Partners BMZ, GIZ, KOICA, SIDA, USAID, DCED, UNCTAD, UNEP, Green Growth Knowledge Platform, Green Tec Capital Partners, Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs
Relevant SDGs SDGs 8, 12, 13, 15, 17
Member States benefiting from the initiative Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Kenya, Lao PDR, Nepal, Peru, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago, Vietnam, Global

ITC’s GreenToCompete initiative supports developing countries seize the economic opportunities of the green transition. The initiative focuses on three key areas: circular economy, climate resilience and biodiversity. Pillars of the GreenToCompete initiative:

• Green competitiveness: supporting micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to compete through environmentally friendly business practices and access to green finance.

• Ecopreneurship: supporting innovative entrepreneurs to build and grow their solutions to environmental challenges.

• Sustainable value chains: Working with market partners to connect MSMEs to international value chains, generate more local value add, and generate green business opportunities.

• Business environment: Working with key stakeholders in the supportive ecosystem to unlock the relevant services that MSMEs require to succeed.

• Green policies: Supporting policy making at the domestic, regional and multilateral levels to transform trade and investment in a manner conducive to developing countries.



Name Youth & Trade Programme
Partners UNCDF, ILO, Accelerate 2030, UEFA Foundation, Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth
Relevant SDGs SDGs 4, 8
Member States benefiting from the initiative The Gambia, Guinea, Palestine, Global

Increasing the income opportunities available to young entrepreneurs, especially with trade, is good for future economic growth and social inclusion. ITC’s Youth and Trade programme works to expand entrepreneurship opportunities, grow job prospects, and strengthen vocational skills. The programme focuses on:

• Developing youth-inclusive national strategies

• Strengthening youth entrepreneurship support ecosystems, including youth-led institutions

• Upskilling young entrepreneurs: capacity building and access finance,

• Online community of over 17,000 young entrepreneurs Ye! Community:


3. Has your organization published or is it planning to publish any analytical work or guidance note or toolkits to guide and support recovery efforts from COVID-19 while advancing SDG implementation at national, regional and global levels? Please select up to three high-impact resources to highlight, especially those that address interlinkages among the SDGs. 


Name Women Entrepreneurs: An Action Plan to Build Back Better
Publishing entity International Trade Centre (ITC) 
Relevant SDGs SDGs 5, 8, 17
Target audience Policy makers, business support organizations, private sector

As COVID-19 reshapes global value chains and policy landscapes, governments, corporations and the international community must collectively take steps to ensure a full and sustainable economic recovery. And women have a key role to play in that recovery. This policy brief outlines nine actions that policymakers, corporations and the global community can take to ensure that ‘building back better’ after the COVID-19 pandemic unlocks women entrepreneurship and creates more equal and sustainable societies.

Link to access…

Language English


Name COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures Dashboard
Publishing entity International Trade Centre (ITC)
Relevant SDGs SDGs 8, 17
Target audience Policy makers, business support organizations, private sector
Description The free-to-use online COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures Dashboard maps all countries that have adopted export or import measures related to the pandemic. The dashboard is updated daily through a live 24-hour tracker of relevant measures adopted. Dashboard users are able to access a detailed table that documents all countries, measures introduced, as well as the corresponding original government decrees. The dashboard along with the comprehensive and free ITC databases on trade, tariffs and export potential, provide reliable, transparent and up-to-date information to deploy health-related products where they are needed most.
Link to access
Language English


Name SME Competitiveness Outlook 2021: Empowering the Green Recovery
Publishing entity International Trade Centre (ITC)
Relevant SDGs SDGs 1, 8, 17
Target audience Policy makers, business support organizations, private sector
Description The SME Competitiveness Outlook 2021 analyses how small businesses can rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic so they are prepared to face the looming climate crisis. It provides a 20-point Green Recovery Plan to foster competitive, resilient and environmentally sustainable small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The report finds that small firms are less resilient to shocks – whether the pandemic or climate change – because they do not have key business fundamentals in place. The report identifies key areas where small businesses with limited resources can invest to seize opportunities of the green transition – and what business support organizations, governments, lead firms in value chains and international organizations can do to empower small firms to be competitive, resilient and sustainable.
Link to access
Language English

4. How has your organization engaged with stakeholder groups to support SDG implementation and COVID-19 recovery at national, regional and global levels? Please provide main highlights, including any lessons learned. If your organization has established multi-stakeholder partnerships in this regard, please describe them (objectives, partners involved, relevant SDGs, Member States benefiting from the partnership) and provide links to relevant websites, if applicable.

Name SheTrades
Partners 350 partner organizations, including UPS, eBay, Mary Kay, Mastercard, VISA
Relevant SDGs SDGs 1, 5, 8, 17
Member States benefiting from the initiative Argentina, Bangladesh, Cote D’Ivoire, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Uruguay, Vietnam, Zambia, Global

SheTrades has 350 partner organizations across 65 countries. The Initiative employs three partnership models.

1. Advocate: Partners that actively engage in dialogue and advocacy events to increase the outreach of the SheTrades Initiative. Example: Mastercard promotes the development of tools and solutions to enable trade for women entrepreneurs through the SheTrades Initiative.

2. Contributor: Partners that work with SheTrades to generate integrated solutions to accelerate the inclusion of women in global value chains. Example: The Nigerian Export Promotion Council has organized technical workshops and mobilized the support of private-sector partners and financial institutions in Nigeria to improve the technical competitiveness of women entrepreneurs and facilitate their linkages with regional and international markets.

3. Transformer: Partners that provide financial resources, expertise and methodologies to pilot in-depth programmes for women entrepreneurs. Example: In 2019, SheTrades began collaborating with marketing company Mary Kay. Under the partnership, Mary Kay sponsors the creation of tools and methodologies to develop entrepreneurship training modules and content, and deploys these tailored training packages to build the skills and competitiveness of women entrepreneurs in selected countries.

The partnership is a pivotal element of the Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator, a multi-partnerinitiative designed to inspire, educate and empower businesswomen around the world.



Name Global Trade Helpdesk
Partners UNCTAD, WTO
Relevant SDGs SDGs 8, 17
Member States benefiting from the initiative Global 
Description This integrated online platform provides accessible, timely and relevant trade intelligence to help MSMEs with details from doorstep to destination market. Though this helpdesk, companies can compare demand for their products across markets, explore tariffs and other market access conditions, access details about buyers, navigate domestic export processes, find business partners, and more. It includes COVID-19 temporary trade measures.


Name One Trade Africa
Partners AFCFTA Secretariat, UNECA, UNDP, African Union Commission, Afreximbank
Relevant SDGs SDGs 8, 17
Member States benefiting from the initiative African countries
Description Through the One Trade Africa initiative, ITC works with partners to make the African Continental Free Trade Agreement benefit micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. The initiative focuses on: developing continental and regional value chains in key sectors; improving quality and standards of African products and system; strengthening digital trade and green technology opportunities for Africa, improving cross-border trade mechanisms, especially for women and youth, and integrating sustainability and resilience approaches in agri-business and service sectors. Working closely with AfCFTA national committees, trade ministries, national and regional business associations, regional economic communities and the AfCFTA Secretariat, One Trade Africa will move the AfCFTA to concrete business transactions that bring jobs and inclusive and sustainable growth to the continent.


Name Alliances for Action
Partners European Union, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Sweden; Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States, Caribbean Forum, Caribbean Agricultural Research & Development Institute, Coconut Industry Board, Scientific Research Council, Jamaica Promotions Corporation, National Agricultural Research & Extension Institute, Caribbean Export, Junta Agroempresarial Dominicana, Instituto Dominicano de Investigaciones Agropecuarias y Forestales, Ministry of Agriculture of the Dominican Republic
Relevant SDGs SDGs 2, 8, 16, 17
Member States benefiting from the initiative Global
Description The ITC Alliances for Action (A4A) Programme works with a network of partners worldwide to increase agribusiness value chains ethically and sustainably. The programme boosts farmer and small firm competitiveness, market access and values-based food systems. To keep the sector growing during the pandemic, the programme prioritized training on climate-smart crop diversification and value addition.

 5. In the 2019 SDG Summit declaration (GA Resolution 74/4), Member States outlined ten priority areas for accelerated action in SDG implementation. Please highlight any major integrated and innovative policies or initiatives that your organization may have adopted in these ten priority areas:

5.1 leaving no one behind

ITC’s Refugee Employment and Skills Initiative provides innovative, trade-led and market-based solutions to create jobs and generate income for refugees and their host communities to build self-reliance and foster economic resilience.

5.2 mobilizing adequate and well-directed financing

SheTrades Invest connects eligible women entrepreneurs with financial institutions and builds their capacity to become investment ready.

5.3 enhancing national implementation

ITC’s Trade Strategy Programme empowers countries to develop, manage and implement home-grown strategies to harness trade and investment for economic transformation and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

5.4 strengthening institutions for more integrated solutions

ITC helps to build a more supportive business ecosystem for MSMEs by strengthening trade and investment support institutions to provide improved and expanded services for companies

5.5 bolstering local action; 

5.6 reducing disaster risk and building resilience

Through the Alliances for Action initiative, ITC supports actors across agricultural value chains in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific to make systemic changes for climate resilience, risk diversification and value addition.

5.7 solving challenges through international cooperation and enhancing the global partnership

The Social & Labor Convergence Program provides the tools to capture accurate data about working conditions in global supply chains. This multi-stakeholder initiative replaces the need for repetitive social audits audits by facilitating data sharing. This increases transparency in supply chains, reduces the need for social audits and ultimately allows users to redeploy resources into improving working conditions.

5.8 harnessing science, technology and innovation with a greater focus on digital transformation for sustainable development

ecomConnect is an e-commerce community engagement platform with a special focus on entrepreneurs from developing and least-developed countries. We bring together micro, small and medium sized companies, start-ups, organizations and business experts in e-commerce to: Connect with other entrepreneurs to create business opportunities and investigate new markets. Share e-commerce experiences, success stories and solutions with others. Explore the latest e-commerce news, trends, publications and case studies. Solve e-commerce-related problems using innovative and exclusive online tools. Learn from experts.

5.9 investing in data and statistics for the SDGs

ITC works closely with its parent organizations, UNCTAD and the WTO, to provide data and statistics on the contribution of trade to the SDGs.

6. In the lead up to the 2023 HLPF to be held under the auspices of the General Assembly (or 2023 SDG Summit), please provide your organization’s recommendations on how to overcome challenges to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the achievement of the SDGs, taking into account the thematic reviews and voluntary national reviews conducted to date.

We are at a critical moment in time to ensure that developmental gains are not undone and that we can plot a course of action to maintain momentum. Building resilience - Resilience in the face of COVID, resilience in the face of climate change - into our strategies and interventions is of paramount importance as we move forward.

As a joint organization of the WTO and the UN, ITC supports and advocates for the promotion of a universal, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system. Commitment to multilateralism, especially during times of global crisis, is critical to achieving a just, sustainable and resilient future as envisioned in the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. Trade is a key ingredient to not only generate growth, but also to transform economies for inclusion and sustainability.

To achieve inclusive and sustainable development and resilience in the post-COVID era, national development plans and international cooperation initiatives must have micro, small and medium-sized enterprises at their centre, as they are the backbone of the global economy. The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated the vulnerability of MSMEs, in particular women and youth-owned enterprises, and the importance of supporting these groups. We have to build back boldly after the pandemic and put gender equality, social responsibility, and environmental protection at the heart of the recovery.

Well-coordinated efforts and a systematic approach to delivery among Member States and within the UN system are critical for success.


ECESA Plus Member
Year of submission: 2021