Program in a Nutshell

Created in 2016

25 activities carried out​


  • Building Skills and Training
  • Institutional Building and Support to Institutions
  • Technical Assistance and Support
  • Policy Advice, Support and Formulation
  • Research, Reports and Evaluations


  • Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit (BMZ) – Germany
  • European Union
  • United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
  •  World Bank

Geographical scope​

Regional Economic Status

Partner : ITC

Contact us

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This programme focuses on supporting micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to develop their e-commerce capabilities. It is run by the International Trade Centre (ITC), a joint agency of the WTO and the UN; the only development agency entirely dedicated to strengthening the MSME sector.

The programme actively supports MSMEs on their e-commerce journey through its training programme, research and facilitation of innovative solutions, collaborative structures, partnerships and digital tools and technologies.

The aim of the programme is to offer MSMEs favourable conditions for online trading through initiatives such as creating a common collaborative structure for technology and services. In this way, SMEs are able to share the costs of exporting goods, handle foreign payments and generate awareness in foreign markets. The programme also helps countries to build an international legal structure and international logistics to reduce barriers to e-commerce. Finally, it promotes market access for entreprises through promotional activities and partnerships with international platforms.

ITC ecomConnect covers activities and interactions on three levels: enterprise-level, ecosystem level, and policy and institutional environment level. Its overall aim is to shift from improving to consolidating the capabilities of each SME, ensuring long-term, sustainable change.

ITC ecomConnect Programme also offers an online community for e-commerce professionals, ecomConnect, with a special focus on users from developing and least-developed countries. The platform brings together MSMEs, start-ups, organizations and business experts in e-commerce to build-up connections, acquire digital expertise through free online courses, e-commerce tools and live webinars, and discuss e-commerce latest news.

To discover more about this programme, visit the dedicated web portal and follow it on Twitter, LinkedIn or YouTube. Watch the ITC ecomConnect video below:


  • Building Skills and Training

      • Customized face-to-face training for successful domestic and international e-commerce for MSMEs, as well as intermediate institutions and consultants who coach and advise local firms on e-commerce
      • Offering a set of online training modules designed to support local firms with strengthening their online presence
      • Providing services, technology and tools for local partners to build their own platforms that support SMEs

      Online Training Courses

      • Introduction to e-commerce
        This course provides participants with an overall introduction to the concept and practice of e-commerce. It also includes an “e-commerce readiness check” which will allow participants to gauge their level of preparation to start selling products or services online through an e-commerce channel.
      • Creating Quality E-commerce Content
        This course introduces SMEs to the importance of creating quality e-commerce content for their online initiatives, presenting them with useful guidelines for content creation, both for individual products as well as for companies as a whole. It is also available in Spanish.
      • Using virtual marketplaces for your e-commerce initiative
        This course introduces participants to virtual marketplaces (VMPs), which are a type of e-commerce website on which individual businesses can sell their products or services internationally.
      • E-commerce for your B2B Business
        This course introduces participants to the opportunities and challenges of becoming involved in B2B e-commerce. Finally, it concludes with a look at digital marketing and website optimization, with the goal of providing participants with tools to make their B2B e-commerce operations as effective as they can be. This course is also available in Arabic.
      • E-commerce for SMEs: An introduction for policymakers
        This joint course by ITC and Diplo Foundation is designed to help participants better understand the multifaceted concept of e-commerce, the opportunities it offers to SMEs, and the steps necessary to create an enabling environment allowing for a greater uptake of e-commerce by both businesses and consumers.
  • Institutional Building and Support to Institutions

      • Assessing local institutions to understand existing capacities and develop plans to support e-commerce growth for MSMEs
      • Creating locally-owned business structures that collectively enable access to affordable logistics, international payments and promotional initiatives
      • Supporting the development of a local environment that will develop the country’s digital ecosystem
  • Technical Assistance and Support

      • Assisting in designing and establishing e-commerce platforms and logistic solutions
      • Advising on maintaining and updating the e-commerce platform to develop a sustainable local business model
      • Researching and implementing innovative tools and customized software solutions to support product digitalization, e-commerce readiness, and the development of e-commerce pricing strategies.
      • Facilitating collaborative support structures, and partnerships with third-party providers that address country-specific barriers in order to reduce or share the costs of exporting goods and handling foreign payments
      • Organising promotional events to connect e-commerce businesses to international customers through online campaigns, trade fairs, and exhibitions
  • Policy Advice, Support and Formulation

      • Structuring of policies to overcome the barriers to e-commerce for MSME
      • Strengthening capacity of policymakers and institutions on the implications of e-commerce, centered on MSMEs
      • Organizing public-private dialogues and advisory in policy formulation
  • Research, Reports and Evaluations

      • Advising and researching to develop, expand, and resolve specific barriers, such as access to payment solutions, logistics, and e-commerce services


  • E-commerce Readiness Quiz

    • Rapidly assesses e-commerce readiness in 5 areas: ecommerce planning, online presence, digital marketing, shipping, and inventory and customer service. The quiz is available in English, French, Spanish and Chinese. Access the tool here.

  • E-commerce Cost Calculator

    • Helps SMEs understand the costs of selling on popular ecommerce marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay and Etsy, or their own online stores. Supports SMEs to set up pricing strategies and calculate sales margins. Try the tool here.

  • Online Payment Solution Finder

    • Helps businesses easily find available payment solutions for which they may be eligible in a given country and sales channel. It also incorporates background information and contacts for the listed solutions. Access the tool here.

  • ecomConnect Market

    • The market brings together a selection of e-commerce businesses from around the world to promote and showcase best practices. The enterprises showcased have all undergone an extensive ITC ecomConnect support programme and serve as a reference group for the quality of their products and implemented e-commerce strategy. The ecomConnect market serves as a tool to promote the contribution of partners and fund online campaigns that can boost sales for the selected enterprises and demonstrate results.

  • Africa Marketplace Explorer

    • This dynamic dashboard explores 630+ business-to-consumer (B2C) marketplaces in 55 countries and territories in Africa. It helps businesses understand how to sell goods online regionally or in neighbouring countries. The tool also allows users to explore marketplace trends, the availability and requirements of each marketplace and a country-by-country benchmarking. Users can filter and download data, and hover over graphs and maps to uncover additional insights. Click here to get a copy of the accompanying report.

      The version for Latina America and the Caribbean will be launched at the end of 2022.


  • E-commerce Diagnostics Tool

    • Conducts a deep assessment of SMEs’ e-commerce capabilities before and after projects, covering general business maturity, online presence, payments, logistics, digital marketing, and customer service. Information is gathered via a comprehensive online survey. This tool is only accessible to project SMEs and is not publicly available. Request more information here.

  • Track Me Tool

    • This tool tracks small and medium enterprises’ sales and site traffic across different e-commerce platforms in a single dashboard. The track me tool helps businesses measure their online performance and benchmark themselves with other businesses. The tool is used in selected ITC projects. Request more information here.

Impact Stories

  • Fostering inter-regional collaboration through the E-commerce Leadership Programme in Central America

    • Following more than two years of e-commerce training for women-led businesses in Central America, ITC ecomConnect launched a leadership programme to provide advanced companies the opportunity to mentor fellow beneficiaries.

      The programme allowed businesses who gained extensive knowledge during the one-on-one e-commerce coaching to leverage their experience and scale the e-lab methodology applied during the project. ‘E-labs’ were organised by the ITC to provide the most seasoned businesses with specific support, covering testing, learning, and measuring, which could later be passed on to less advanced beneficiaries. As a result of the e-labs, 10 websites, 11 Etsy stores and 47 eBay stores were created and optimized with ITC’s direct support. This meant 820 online orders with more than 62,000 USD of revenue gained, most coming from buyers in the US and Europe. In addition, and thanks to the partnership with NOVICA, which was signed at the end of the project, project beneficiaries had additional revenue: 37 beneficiaries gained 34,000 USD.

      The leadership programme saw a total of 36 Central American business owners. To foster inter-regional collaboration and camaraderie, they were grouped into 18 teams consisting of entrepreneurs from various parts of Central America, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panamá.

      The E-Commerce Leadership Programme is part of the “Linking Central American Women Business Enterprises (WBEs) with the Global Gifts and Home Decoration Market” initiative. The project is funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC) in collaboration with the Secretariat for Central American Economic Integration (SIECA) and national implementing partners in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.

  • Tracing Rwandan coffee digitally through blockchain for inclusive trade

    • As part of the SheTrades Rwanda project, ITC’s ecomConnect team worked with women owned coffee processors to improve their branding and online channels. ITC also piloted two traceability solutions with two women owned coffee growing and processing businesses in Rwanda: Nova coffee and Tropic coffee. With Nova coffee, we trialed a blockchain technology solution developed by Farmer Connect.

      Thanks to their platform, we were able to digitize transaction records to securely track the origin of the coffee and bring greater visibility on both the Nova business and the women farmers to the end consumer. With Tropic coffee, we used the OLAM AtSource solution to capture detailed data on how Tropic coffee’s product was grown, harvested, and processed at all stages as well as key social and climate metrics. With these digital traceability tools, we captured data from over 1,000 women coffee growers in Rwanda. Both businesses were able to capture important data that confirmed the efforts they are devoting to producing high-quality sustainable coffee as well as supporting their local communities and women farmers.

  • Connecting artisanal businesses in Central Asia to international markets

    • As part of the Ready4Trade Central Asia project funded by the European Union, ITC ecomConnect launched its e-commerce enterprise training and advisory support to over 200 SMEs in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in 2021.

      Companies represent diverse industry sectors, and national coaches tailor the support to SMEs helping them open or optimize relevant online channels. Etsy and eBay are the preferred channels for artisanal B2C producers, and within the year, ITC supported 30 artisans with the opening and optimization of their online shops. A total 333 Etsy sales were made to international customers worth more than 41,000 USD while eBay sales hit 188 worth more than 14,000 USD.

      Learn more about ITC ecomConnect impact in Central Asia through the story of one of the project beneficiaries here.

  • Creating collaborative businesses to succeed in e-commerce in Tunisia

    • ITC helped a group of beneficiary SMEs to work together and form a consortium to sell complimentary products online. This was the result of the hard work carried out under the E-commerce for Women Entrepreneurs in the Middle East and North Africa regions (MENA) initiative in Tunisia, funded by the World Bank and provided by the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi).

      The team did not only train the women who joined forces to create a consortium, but also trained 20 advisors and 90 women-led small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) on how to undertake market research, develop an e-commerce strategy, create digital content, handle online payments, manage inventory, prepare for shipment and customs clearance as well as promote products and services through digital channels. SMEs received in-depth training and individual support in selecting and listing on virtual marketplaces and with the support of their advisors, most SMEs have created seller accounts on local and regional marketplaces.

      From June to December 2021, 270 products have been sold through different marketplaces with a turnover approaching 10,000 USD. To support SMEs, ITC ecomConnect launched sponsored campaigns on the two main marketplaces Jumia and Little Jenaina and provided graphic design services.

      Learn here how women are transforming their business digitally in Tunisia.

  • ConnectUEMOA

    • ConnectUEMOA 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.


For Whom

Policy makersNon-governmental organizationsBusiness AssociationsCorporationsMSMEsSMEsResearchersExpertsDecision makers


  • National agencies or bodies

    • USAID
    • Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit (BMZ) – Germany
    • The Commonwealth
    • Qatar Development Bank
    • SIDA
  • International organizations

    • European Union
    • The World Bank
    • EIF
  • Academia

    • Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences
  • Corporations

    • DHL
    • Novica
    • Etsy
    • eBay
    • PayPal
    • Payoneer