International Trade Centre partners with Microsoft to help small businesses sell online

The UN small business agency and the tech giant train small businesses in developing countries to sharpen digital skills and engage in e-commerce.

(Abu Dhabi) The International Trade Centre (ITC) signed a letter of intent with Microsoft Corporation on 27 February on the sidelines of the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference, to develop and roll out training for small businesses to strengthen their digital skills, on topics ranging from artificial intelligence (AI) for trade to cybersecurity and e-commerce.

This collaboration is aimed at addressing the gap between an increasingly digital trading landscape and the lack of knowledge and skills of small businesses in developing countries to sell online.

Through the partnership, ITC and Microsoft will also advocate for inclusive digital trade practices and policies, as digitalization of – and by – small businesses helps contribute to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Exchanging best practices, upgrading skills

As part of ITC’s Inclusive Digital Entrepreneurship in the Agri-food Sector (IDEAS) project in Nigeria, Microsoft will offer tailored capacity building, including courses on Microsoft 365 products such as Excel, Word and PowerPoint, as well as entrepreneurship courses aimed at fostering entrepreneurial thinking, business management, finance management and market research. Additionally, Microsoft will deliver training on using AI for trade and strengthening cybersecurity skills. Certified trainers will ensure beneficiaries apply the newly acquired skills in practice.

ITC will offer tailored e-commerce content for Microsoft’s Digital Skills Nigeria Training Portal. This new content will enable more businesses in Nigeria to acquire the latest e-commerce knowledge and skills.

The partnership with Microsoft is central to ITC’s mission to support small businesses to trade and enhance their competitiveness and is a step towards achieving digital inclusivity and fostering sustainable and inclusive economic growth in developing countries.

‘The partnership with Microsoft means small businesses from developing countries will gain the digital and entrepreneurial skills they need to succeed in fast-changing global markets,’ said Pamela Coke-Hamilton. ‘Digital is the game-changer in global trade – and now small businesses will be able to benefit more from it.’

“There is a lot of research that demonstrates the impact small businesses have on a community and a nation’s wider economy,” says Caroline Mutepfa, Philanthropies Lead at Microsoft. “According to the World Economic Forum, SMEs make up 95 percent of all registered businesses and contribute 50 percent of GDP in sub-Saharan Africa. It is, therefore, crucial that these businesses receive the support they need to thrive in a digital economy. Our work with the ITC aligns with Microsoft’s mission to help individuals and organizations achieve more. Through digital skills building, we hope to leave no business behind.”


About the International Trade Centre

The International Trade Centre is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transitioning economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

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About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

About the Inclusive Digital Entrepreneurship in the Agri-food Sector (IDEAS) project

ITC’s IDEAS project, funded by the Government of Japan, aims to promote the development of inclusive e-commerce in Nigeria, particularly for small-scale food processing companies from disadvantaged communities, by enhancing their technical and managerial capacities, strengthening market linkages, and creating a conducive environment for their growth. By providing innovative, effective and fast-acting solutions tailored to the needs of diverse processed food manufacturers, the project aims to expand access to emerging business opportunities that e-commerce offers and to create a more conducive and supportive digital trade ecosystem that works for all toward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

About Digital Skills Nigeria Training Portal

Digital Skills Nigeria (DSN) is a multi-year, multi-stakeholder private-public-non-profit partnership designed by Microsoft to build the capacity of key government ministries, departments and agencies to offer sustainable, scalable reskilling and employment services aligned to the local labour markets. The program focuses on providing access to digital skills training (from digital literacy to advanced training) for young people in Nigeria between the ages of 16-35 years. DSN is implemented as a collaboration between Microsoft, The Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, strategic Non-profits implementing partners like Wootlab Foundation and Data Science Nigeria, and private sector stakeholders.

Media contact

Susanna Pak

Senior Strategic Communications Officer

International Trade Centre

E: [email protected]

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