WTO, ITC launch USD 50 million global fund for women exporters in the digital economy

The WTO and the International Trade Centre (ITC) today (25 February) launched a USD 50 million global fund to help women tap into opportunities in international trade and the digital economy on the sidelines of the 13th Ministerial Conference taking place in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The Women Exporters in the Digital Economy (WEIDE) Fund will help women-led businesses and women entrepreneurs in developing economies and least-developed countries adopt digital technologies and expand the online presence of their enterprises.

WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said: “Digital trade, and more specifically digitally delivered services trade, is the fastest growing segment of international trade – growing at 8% on average since 2005. In the era of digital trade, those who were left behind in the first wave of globalisation have the opportunity to benefit now and do things differently. Digitalisation presents us with unprecedented opportunities to empower women entrepreneurs, level the playing field and foster inclusive growth.”

ITC Executive Director Ms. Pamela Coke-Hamilton said: “Time and time again, women in developing countries tell us that access to finance is a key barrier to trade. With this new Fund, women entrepreneurs will have the resources they need to do business across borders and online.”

Dr Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, United Arab Emirates, said: “Empowering women in trade is key to unlocking the full potential of our economies. Improving access to finance is essential to that goal. This new Fund is a significant step, enabling brilliant women entrepreneurs to find the capital they need to turn ideas into successful and growing companies. The UAE is proud to play its part in supporting this vital initiative.”

The UAE is allocating USD 5 million to the Fund as its first donor.

The launch took place during the WTO-ITC High-Level Event on Women and Trade, a two-day conference on women’s economic empowerment preceding the start of negotiations by the WTO’s highest decision-making body. Ministers from across the world are gathering to take action on the future work of the WTO at the conference hosted by the United Arab Emirates.

The WEIDE Fund will open for applications from women exporters in the second quarter of 2024. Information on how to apply will be circulated soon.

On Day One of the WTO-ITC High-Level Event on Women and Trade, the WTO and ITC co-hosted the SheTrades Summit, gathering more than 250 women entrepreneurs from over 60 countries as well as global business leaders (from Visa, UPS, etc.) and international development partners.

Participants discussed concrete solutions to the challenges facing women entrepreneurs and explored opportunities for women to access new markets in an increasingly green and digital global trading system. They also attended masterclasses delivered by leading experts from ITC, Visa, DHL, Sidley Austin and the World Intellectual Property Organization.

ITC also extended its collaboration with the Dubai Economic Development Corporation to host the ITC SheTrades Middle East and North Africa Hub and signed a memorandum of understanding with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council to continue hosting the SheTrades Hub in the country. This brings the number of ITC SheTrades Hubs worldwide to 17, including two regional Hubs.

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