Alibaba and ITC partner for e-commerce in small businesses

Supporting micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries through training and community support


The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the importance of using digital channels to reach new markets and stay connected with existing customers.

In the business-to-business (B2B) sector, e-commerce platforms are continuously improved and customized. McKinsey & Company research shows that, for the first time, B2Bs are more likely to offer e-commerce over in-person sales.

However, new technologies are not available to everyone, including many micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in developing countries. Advisory and technical support are also often unavailable to these businesses.

The International Trade Centre (ITC) joined forces with Alibaba to help MSMEs increase their knowledge of e-commerce practices, improve marketing skills, explore business opportunities, and generate new exports.

The partnership provides these enterprises with the skills and training required to contribute to the digital trade growth of their countries. It has provided B2B e-commerce capacity building for the ecomConnect community members and business support organizations (BSOs) in Africa and Central Asia.

How the partnership steps in

In December 2022, ITC and organized two capacity building technical webinars on Over 250 MSMEs – from which 60% were women entrepreneurs – attended the webinars on and more than 1,500 joined on Alibaba’s Facebook page, with a Facebook reach exceeding 250,000 views. Recordings available on exceeded 300 additional views in the three months after the webinars.

In the first webinar, Andrew Zheng, vice president of, shared insights and case studies on how small businesses can prepare for B2B e-commerce, reach new markets, and grow their online businesses.

This webinar addressed several questions shared by participants. They wanted to know which sort of businesses should consider B2B e-commerce and how to evaluate their small businesses’ readiness. They also wanted to learn more about common challenges to new joiners and how existing businesses could build resilience in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the second webinar, Han Shen, Global Marketing Manager of, interviewed Yanni Xuan. Xuan is the Vice Director of Proline Vietnam and a successful entrepreneur from the Global Digital Trade Expo. They discussed e-commerce opportunities and overcoming common B2B e-commerce challenges.

“Throughout the webinars, I received invaluable information on how to get B2B e-commerce ready and build resilience in a time of crisis,” said Dan Chileshe. “With the amazing offerings from Alibaba, small businesses can focus on their products, while leveraging a marketplace with a reach of over 200 countries. Thanks to the webinars, we can penetrate the e-commerce industry.”

Alibaba also organized a technical workshop in February 2023 on how to support MSMEs to build and run successful B2B businesses. This workshop was attended by more than 150 BSOs from Africa and Central Asia.

During this workshop, Tim Song, head of Global Strategic Partnerships at Alibaba, introduced and explained B2B e-commerce opportunities, and shared tips and recommendations for BSOs.

Integrated marketing expert at Alibaba, Danny He, explained the role of hybrid trade shows. Siwei Gao, head of brand marketing at the Alibaba Digital County Project, introduced the Rural Revitalisation Development Programme.

The workshop was followed by a Q&A session during which representatives from the BSOs were able to ask questions and share concerns directly with the Alibaba team.

“Partnering with Alibaba will provide market access to Kenyan products, not only in China but globally. We would love to have a special session with Kenya to understand how Alibaba can support our Kenyan Exporters,” said Hilda Ogada, manager at Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency. “The session was insightful and eye-opening.”

Cooperation with Alibaba will continue in 2023 to address the needs of MSMEs in developing countries by providing capacity building on e-commerce development. This partnership will increase knowledge and provide new business opportunities.

About the project

The Sustainable E-commerce Development for MSMEs project aims to help the Micro Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) to better use e-commerce opportunities for sustainable development. The International Trade Centre (ITC) and Alibaba will cooperate to support E-commerce capacity building and business promotion for MSMEs from developing countries. ITC will be the implementing agency. ITC’s work will benefit from its experience and lessons learnt from past and existing e-commerce and trade promotion related projects.

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