August 25, 2021

How Connectivity Can Empower Small Business & Trade – An Int’l Org Perspective

Video By

Ms. Pamela Coke-Hamilton

Executive Director, ITC

The ideas and opinions expressed in this insight are those of the authors; they do not necessarily reflect those of ITU and UNESCO or the Broadband Commission. The mention of specific companies, products or services does not imply that they are endorsed or recommended by ITU or UNESCO or Broadband Commission in preference to others of a similar nature that are not mentioned.

Digital tools and connectivity have accelerated trade. 
During the pandemic, many businesses were quick to adopt digital technologies to boost productive capacity. It is estimated that the pandemic has seen a jump in the adoption of digital technology by three years. 

We’ve seen firsthand how digital technologies have enabled many small businesses to innovate and grow despite challenging conditions. We saw a Rwandan startup, O’Genius, in our Fast Track tech programs seize the opportunity to support schools with remote delivery of learning in 2020 and be rewarded with a $200,000 investment and employ an additional 20 staff, A mobile Taxi app, SafeBoda in Uganda, expanded their business model by putting safety first, and now do home delivery of food and essentials. Coffee producers from Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi, have joined forces to set up a shared e-commerce platform supplying the delicious coffee blends directly to consumers in the UK.

These examples show how digital technologies can help small businesses to challenge the status quo, enter new markets and value chains, and gain financial security through living wages. However, for many small businesses, digital technologies are out of their reach due to a combination of factors, cost, limited connectivity, know how, and more.

This is why the International Trade Center is working with partner institutions and large enterprises to bring affordable solutions to small businesses, promote innovation, and boost their participation in international trade, It’s clear that digital technologies are driving the future of trade, and we need to make sure that small businesses can be on board. The Broadband Commission has a powerful role in turning policy into action to boost the connectivity of MSMEs, and in turn contribute to economic resilience.