Export Impact For Good

Countries / Territories

Connecting to International Value Chains

  • Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in developing countries are crucial providers of jobs and income, and an essential vehicle for inclusive economic growth.

    But they find it hard to provide a differentiated, value-added offer that attracts partners such as foreign investors and multinational companies. In addition, they are not always supported adequately to address these challenges.

    ITC's Value Added to Trade (VA2T) focuses on the value that can be created and retained within a country to goods or services at each stage in the supply chain.


    • acts as an impartial connector by using multi-stakeholder platforms to coordinate all aspects of growth and markets
    • foster market links by establishing relationships with buyers and leading enterprises in value chains
    • helps balance the buyer perspective with the producer/MSME perspective in understanding market requirements
    • optimizes MSME competitiveness by reinforcing quality and efficiency of supply and production, implementing operational and managerial sustainability practices, driving innovation, and making connections with market opportunities

    The programme contributes to inclusive and sustainable development, as envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, by directing assistance to MSMEs that are run by, employ or benefit women, young people, and vulnerable populations (such as poor communities, refugees and displaced people) in developing countries.

    These initiatives include:

    The programme also contributes to global work to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

    Transforming Sectors

    At the sector level, the programme conducts strategic analyses of change readiness, value chains and markets. It also:

    • enables stakeholders to design development strategies
    • builds platforms, industry and cluster associations
    • engages stakeholders in new 'alliances for action'
    • unites buyers, processors, producers and support-service providers

    VA2T programmes focus on sectors that include:


    ITC's Alliances for Action (A4A) programme promotes inclusive and sustainable agricultural value chains with a model that works holistically to increase the competitiveness of producers and MSMEs and their compliance with environmental, economic and social requirements.

    A4A works with farmers, MSMEs and cooperative enterprises to capture market opportunities by strategically positioning diverse agricultural and value-added products in the 'responsible production and consumption' market segment.

    The programme focusses on developing value-added products and market innovations that maximize income-generating opportunities in local, regional and international markets. It also aims to coordinate bottom-up private-public dialogue and stimulate investment by building multi-stakeholder partnerships.

    In addition, A4A is a network that puts together different actors - producers, processors, buyers, support institutions - into strategic partnerships that build commercial linkages and enable the sharing of best practices and innovations in regional and national operating frameworks.

    This integrated support addresses:

    • living incomes
    • producer-association competitiveness
    • productivity
    • adapting to and mitigating climate change
    • adding value
    • empowering MSMEs to embrace change and adapt

    It also helps producers and MSMEs to become more competitive and resilient to shocks by diversifying crops, markets and incomes - all factors that are essential to participating better in trade.

    Textile and clothing

    ITC's Global Textile and Clothing Programme (GTEX) helps enterprises in textile and clothing value chains to build capacities in logistics, materials sourcing, lean manufacturing, product and design development, and merchandising and marketing. It helps enterprises to improve their social and environmental performance by increasing resource efficiency and taking circular production approaches, among other initiatives. It then links companies to potential markets so that they can diversify their client portfolio and expand exports - with the ultimate goal of creating new jobs.

    GTEX also addresses financing, since companies need to pre-finance the development of fabrics and accessories when they move up the value chain and invest in modern, environmentally friendly technology. In addition, the programme helps institutions to become stronger by expanding their service portfolios and linking national institutions to international partners.


    ITC helps MSMEs and service providers in the tourism sector to develop innovative and sustainable tourism products and expose them to international and regional tourism markets.

    The successful development and marketing of community-based tourism works as a crucial driver for the broader development of tourism in developing countries. It boosts revenues at different levels in the value chain by catalysing an increase in tourism arrivals and spending.

    ITC strengthens destination branding and assists tourism sector associations to extend and improve their services. This activity, in turn, increases competitiveness in tourism and tourism-related value chains. It also enhances the quality of services (for example, community services, local and regional guides, ground-handlers, hotels, restaurants, and so on) with particular focus on food quality, safety and environmental sustainability.

    Digital entrepreneurship

    ITC's FastTrackTech initiative aims to accelerate the digital transformation of Africa, which will be a critical driver in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.

    The programme supports digital entrepreneurship with online and onsite training, and advisory and coaching services aimed at building digital and business skills. This work helps to address a growing digital gender gap and favours young people while focussing on generating regional and international business and promoting investment.

    Improving the performance of MSMEs

    At enterprise level, the programme conducts the following activities:

    1. Strategic Analysis: ITC identifies critical constraints to international trade and the potential to add value in selected MSMEs in specific sectors and markets by capturing market, sector and enterprise-level information. It does this by conducting competitiveness surveys  to collect baseline data and understand the needs of MSMEs. This analysis includes identifying and selecting the most appropriate resource requirements, export opportunities and target markets.
    2. Operations: ITC provides technical assistance and advisory services to MSMEs so that they can overcome pre-identified barriers to internationalization and value-addition.
    1. Market Linkages: ITC assists MSMEs by elaborating marketing and branding campaigns, identifying potential clients and connecting MSMEs to them, and helping MSMEs to diversify into new markets and segments.

    Focus areas include:

    MSME competitiveness

    The MSME Competitiveness Programme strengthens the competitiveness and sustainability of MSMEs by encouraging an entrepreneurial culture, transferring technical knowledge and skills, providing access to markets, and promoting the creation and growth of MSMEs. This work includes areas such as:

    • value addition and innovation
    • resilience and adaptive capacities
    • efficiencies and waste reduction in production and marketing operations
    • export packaging
    • access to finance
    • development of institutional services that better serve MSMEs

    Export marketing and branding

    Branding is a vital component of value addition. More than just logos or design, branding in its broader sense requires a focus on understanding, improving and managing customer perceptions and their willingness to buy and repurchase a product. Brands are promises and require consistency of quality, reliability and service. The implementation of effective branding strategies is central to making sustainable improvements in value, increasing incomes and creating decent jobs.

    ITC helps partner countries, sectors and enterprises build and implement branding strategies in international, regional and local markets. It also helps companies identify markets and customers, test brand positioning and develop and implement marketing communications throughout different phases of a project.

    Quality and standards

    Quality is key to competitiveness. Buyers expect suppliers to meet technical requirements for product characteristics and production methods. These requirements are set in the form of

    • standards
    • technical regulations - including sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures to protect people, animals and plants from diseases, pests and contaminants
    • conformity assessments

    Increasingly, major buyers also expect suppliers to meet social and environmental sustainability requirements.

    ITC helps MSMEs add value by improving their ability to meet technical requirements and prove value by demonstrating compliance. ITC brings together policy, institutional and enterprise-related dimensions to develop effective ways to overcome deficits in information, capacity, infrastructure, and policy awareness. This provides impetus to MSMEs and reinforces their quality competitiveness.

    ITC works with:  

    • policymakers to create a conducive environment
    • conformity assessment bodies to improve capacity in demonstrating compliance with technical regulations and SPS measures
    • enterprises to improve quality and comply with standards and technical regulations


    E-commerce is a significant channel for international trade and one that offers the potential for renewed economic growth. Doing digital business will be essential in the new era. Unfortunately, small businesses are often excluded from e-commerce due to the limited availability of international payment solutions, affordable and reliable logistics services and suitable technologies, on top of legal and regulatory barriers, insufficient skills and a lack of financial support.

    ITC's ecomConnect programme aims to build the world's largest community of e-commerce entrepreneurs engaged in the sustainable development of small businesses online by facilitating shared learning, innovative solutions, collaboration and partnerships.

    The programme includes tailored online and face-to-face training and coaching in market research, e-commerce pricing strategy, digital content, online payments, inventory systems, shipment and customs clearance, as well as the promotion of products and services on digital channels.

    ITC also builds partnerships with private sector firms to provide vital support to small businesses and enable them to share costs and other services essential to e-commerce.

    Export packaging and labelling

    Poor-quality packaging and labelling are among the main reasons that products fail to compete favourably in the global market. Improving packaging helps better protect products, improve customer perception, strengthen brands, improve company competitiveness, increase market shares and enter new markets.

    ITC assists managers in understanding the different functions of packaging so that they can deliver products in perfect condition, at the right price and at the right location, as well as the critical role of packaging as a marketing tool to differentiate products to attract customers. Intervention areas include:

    • waste reduction
    • packaging for e-commerce
    • sector-specific packaging clinics
    • strengthening packaging testing laboratories and packaging institutes

    Export finance and investment

    ITC's Access to Finance programme aims to help aspiring entrepreneurs and enterprises with socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable projects to start up and scale up through entrepreneurial and managerial support and targeted financing solutions.

    ITC trains and works with locally-based financial management counsellors to improve the financial and business management skills of MSMEs so they can prepare bankable proposals. These counsellors also work with banks to better understand their MSME clients and adapt financial products, services, and risk-mitigating schemes such as guarantees for their needs.

    Given the difficulties that MSMEs have accessing finance through traditional channels (namely banks), ITC also works with angel investors, angel funds, venture capitalists, investment funds, and other local partners to set up angel investors networks. Alongside the technical assistance support, ITC helps structure co-investment facilities that can match each angel's financial contribution to start-ups to de-risk and incentivize local investment.

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