This programme focuses on developing e-commerce for SMEs. It is run by ITC, the only UN agency entirely dedicated to growing the SME sector.
The aim of the programme is to offer SMEs 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 SMEs through special events, promotional activities and partnerships with international platforms.
- Training for intermediate institutions and consultants who coach and advise local firms on e-commerce
- Training for SMEs on content and pricing strategies, online inventory management, website registration, market compliance, and more
- Provision of services, technology and tools for local partners to build their own platforms that support SMEs
- Assessment of local institutions to understand existing capacities
- Creating development plans to support e-commerce growth for SMEs
- Structuring of policies to overcome the barriers to e-commerce for SMEs
- Advice on facilitating foreign currency transactions, digital signatures, company registrations, etc.
- Assistance in designing and establishing mutually-owned e-commerce platforms and related payment and logistic solutions
- Expert support in the early stages of project implementation before gradually taking on full responsibility
- Advice on maintaining and updating the e-commerce platform to develop a sustainable local business model
- Creating locally-owned business structures that collectively enable access to affordable logistics, international payments and promotional initiatives
- Support in building a local environment that will develop your digital ecosystem and support e-commerce
- Advice in quality management and metrology to establish testing and certification systems
The programme offers specific solutions for each type of barrier faced by SMEs. All solutions combine training, advice and technology support on a local and international level.
|Wrong products for the market|
|Poor photos & descriptions|
|eCommerce Boot Camp|
|Barred from accessing markets|
|eCom Coop: Compliance|
|Uneconomic, unreliable transport|
|Unable to take international payments|
|eCom Coop: Payments|
|Failure to anticipate duties & taxes|
|eCom Coop: Duties and fiscal services|
|Costly & painful returns|
|Disputes & damage to reputation|
Meet the beneficiaries
With support and advice from the E-Solutions programme, 12 fashion designers in Côte d’Ivoire created an e-commerce platform to sell their products internationally. The project was based on mutualizing access to a single website and sharing the costs of its development and maintenance. While each brand had its own dedicated store, they all benefited from a common marketplace: http://ivorymall.com
ITC helped with the integrated payment and logistics solutions, and also provided training for the companies on overcoming barriers to e-commerce.
Ayan, Côte d’Ivoire
Founder Yalleri, Côte d’Ivoire
LetSequoia is a smallholder coffee producer in Rwanda. It employs 30 workers to farm and wash its coffee beans. Unlike the many large international coffee brands that operate in Rwanda, LetSequoia lacked the logistics and finances to export its products – until it received support from the E-Solutions programme.
Thanks to the programme’s capacity building and advisory services, LetSequoia was able to set up ‘direct coffee’ channels that work like integrated supply chains. This has allowed the company, like many other local smallholder coffee producers, to establish exports and better compete with large producers.
Furthermore, LetSequoia participated in ITC’s e-commerce Caravan, a pop-up store that travelled across Switzerland to promote e-commerce products from developing countries.
LetSequoia CEO, on the e-commerce Caravan
Ethiopian fashion designer Genet Kebede started working with the E-Solutions programme in 2015, aiming to expand her business. Her Paradise Fashion brand, founded in 1992, combines contemporary fashion with hand-woven local fabrics.
Through the programme, she has met international buyers and designers, participated in local and international workshops and trade shows, and received mentoring and capacity building training. Webinar workshops have taught her to negotiate more effectively with clients and better present and promote her products.
She also participated in ITC’s e-commerce Caravan, a pop-up store that travelled across Switzerland to promote e-commerce products from developing countries. Through initiatives like this, she is able to sell her products without intermediaries – and therefore give more back to the people who work on them.
Founder Paradise Fashion
The International Trade Centre (ITC) in partnership with DHL and eBay brought in June and July 2016 an e-Commerce Caravan to Switzerland. The e-Commerce Caravan is a series of events where physical and virtual worlds meet to promote and sell authentic products made by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that ITC works with.
From 5 countries (Morocco, Côte d'Ivoire, Senegal, Ethiopia and Syria).
Generated sales in 1 week
1000 new customers
Zurich & Geneva
Swiss Summer Route
Vice President, eBay Greater Europe, Middle East, Africa
CEO, DHL Freight Central
Eastern Southern Europe & Americas, Middle East, Africa
Programme in a nutshell
Year of creation
Type of business
Capacity buildingPolicy advicePolicy DialogueResearchTechnical assistance
Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit (BMZ) - GermanyGovernment of FinlandOrganisation internationale Francophonie (OIF)United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
Number of activities carried out