Western and Central Africa
Eastern and Southern Africa
Eastern Europe and Central Asia
E-commerce has the potential to become a significant part of the economic activity in developing and LDCs by offering the opportunity to access wider markets without the constraint of having to establish and maintain physical stores. SMEs in these countries, however, face numerous hurdles in order to develop their online presence from availability of ICT, access to the required skills and financial support to limited infrastructure and networks. The E-commerce Connect initiative actively supports SMEs on their digital journey through its training programme, research and facilitation of innovative solutions, collaborative structures, partnerships and digital tools and technologies.
A full implementation of an e-commerce support project would ideally cover both Institutional Level and the Enterprise Level activities.
The Institutional Level provides governments with a national strategy to implement objectives related to e-commerce, equips institutions with the insights and capabilities to promote and support the development of e-commerce.
The Enterprise Level steps enterprises through the skills and acquisition of tools and processes to successfully conduct e-commerce, supported by partners and solutions.
An E-commerce Connect project is divided into 3 phases, which can take between 12 and 24 months depending on the design of the project and the country profiling.Inception (1-2 months): during which awareness is raised among the various stakeholders, aiming to build commitment toward the project and establish the objectives and scope of the work. Each country has a different set of barriers, obstacles and digital maturity and it is important to identify these at an early stage to determine the approach that is likely have the greatest impact. Ecosystem evaluation (2-4 months): during which the capacities of institutions, service providers and the enterprises themselves are assessed in their ability to support and conduct e-commerce. The selection and profiling of enterprises is made, and the selection of coaches made who will support fieldwork in the MSME capacity building phase. MSME capacity building (9-18+ months): the selected MSMEs are supported in the acquisition of required capacities for e-commerce by coaches in distinct phases of learning, beginning with an analysis of the product and market opportunities and the development of positioning strategies; the development of content to list their firms and products, the operationalisation of their e-commerce strategies by listing on marketplaces, implementing payment and logistics solutions; and managing customer service and digital promotion activities.
In parallel to MSME capacity building, work is undertaken to design and deliver elements of ecosystem upgrading – including work with marketplaces to provide supporting services and logistics firms to provide suitable local and international transport and related services.
The E-commerce Connect curriculum consists of detailed training modules, tools and workbooks that have been created by the ITC e-commerce experts to support SMEs in developing and least developed countries trade internationally via online channels. The full implementation of the curriculum takes export-ready companies through a series of learnings from market research, e-commerce engineering, digitalisation of product listing, creation of company content, selecting appropriate online channels, identifying payment solutions and shipping options to customer service and digital marketing. By the end of the curriculum, the SMEs are ready to sell online, either to local or international markets. The curriculum is generally implemented through the train-the-trainer methodology with some activities supporting the SMEs directly depending on their digital maturity and advancement. The curriculum is customised to the specificities of the country and requirements of the project.
The E-commerce Connect team has over the years built partnerships with private sector firms such as Paypal, DHL, Etsy, Alibaba and Ebay to support the training programme and ensure improved access and appropriate support for small enterprises from developing and least developed countries.
Projects in ProgressRwandaWorking with the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM) and in partnership with GIZ, ITC is implementing an e-commerce development project, which aims to open e-commerce opportunities to SMEs in Rwanda through building capacities in understanding and preparedness to market goods and services online. To assist SMEs in practical aspects of getting online, an E-commerce Service Centre has been designed with the technical assistance of the international transportation firm DHL, which will offer access to drop-in advisory, storage of small quantities of products, picking and packing and the delivery of goods to domestic and international customers. The project also includes marketplaces and local logistics firms in its beneficiaries of training.Central American WBEs/HandicraftsThe overall objective of this Initiative is to strengthen Central America capacity to trade in goods and services in view of taking advantage of the EU-Central America Association Agreement (AA). The specific objective of the Initiative is to enhance the export competitiveness of Central American Women Business Enterprises (WBEs) producing craft products for the gifts and home decoration industry to sell their products on line. The expected result is to increase the craft products for the gifts and home decoration industry sold on line by the Central American WBEs. It is expected that increased sales by WBEs will also have a positive effect on the final beneficiaries: the rural and urban households involved in the production of crafts will receive more orders from WBEs and will be better connected with market trends by producing crafts based on WBEs new designs.For latest news on the last e-commerce workshop, click here.
Completed ProjectsQatarThis project built greater awareness and consensus for action in QDB / TASDEER to support the development of international B2B e-commerce from Qatar. Over the course of the project, which ran from Oct 2018 to July 2019, a selection of export-ready firms were trained on B2B e-commerce and assisted in preparing a structured online inventory of products that can be marketed to international buyers. The project organised a digital audit of the firms’ online presence, a review of their product positioning with respect to international markets and the opportunities to list on international marketplaces. To conclude the project, the e-commerce team formulated for the Qatar Development Bank (QDB) a roadmap for improved access to e-commerce channels - identifying the support requirements for firms to enter, market themselves and achieve successful business opportunities through B2B e-commerce platforms..AzerbaijanThe action helped small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) from Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries integrate into global value chains and access new markets with a focus on the European Union (EU) as part of the “Eastern Partnership: Ready to Trade” project. To support this intervention, innovative digital solutions were provided to improve the e-commerce capacities of Azerbaijani SMEs and expand their sales to international marketplaces.Virtual Market Place (VMP)This project supported institutions and SMEs understand and prepare for e-commerce. 135 advisers were trained to support local firms and accompanied 430 SMEs in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to successfully register on marketplaces.
Made In SenegalMade in Senegal is an online platform for Senegalese enterprises to share their products. This was a joint project between the Ministry of Commerce of Senegal, the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the private sector.Connect UEMOAConnectUEMOA is an online platform created to promote commercial opportunities as well as the products from the West African region. This portal provides a directory of enterprises in different sectors as well as a marketplace with digital products.
16 April 2018
Presentation of the publication “What sells in e-commerce: New evidence from Asian LDCs
26 Apr - 31 May 2017
Just-in-time course on digital commerce
20 Apr 2017
ITC, OIF, Ministry of Trade launch ‘Made in Senegal’
13 Apr 2018
What sells in e-commerce: New evidence from Asian LDCs
25 Sept 2017
New Pathways to E-commerce: A Global MSME Competitiveness Survey
28 July 2017
Status, Opportunities and Challenges of BRICS e-commerce
25 May 2016
Bringing SMEs Onto The E-commerce Highway
28 May-1 June 2018
ITC at CIFTIS 2018
16-20 April 2018
ITC at UNCTAD E-commerce week
26 Sept 2017
ITC at the WTO Public Forum 2017
11- 13 Jul 2017
ITC at the sixth Aid for Trade Global Review
24 - 28 Apr 2017
26 Apr 2017
ITC speaks at the Graduate Institute: E-commerce in rural China and developing countries