Innovation

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

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.

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.”

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