SheTrades News | 6 Jun 2018 | by SheTrades

SheTrades Commonwealth

Promoting economic growth and job creation


The SheTrades Commonwealth project aims to increase economic growth and job creation in Commonwealth countries by enabling the increased participation of women-owned businesses in international trade. The project is funded by the UK Department for International Development and implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC) under the framework of the SheTrades Initiative.



Trade, especially by women-owned enterprises, can be an effective driver for the economic inclusion of women. Women-owned exporting firms earn more, employ more people, and pay higher wages. Enabling women to participate in trade and improving the performance of micro, small and medium-sized (MSMEs) can translate into increased trade, productivity, and competitiveness. This can help drive overall economic expansion, job creation, innovation, and human development. If women are to play an active role in shaping institutions, social norms, and the well-being of their communities, their participation in trade is crucial.


ITC’s recent Business Survey, including 11 Commonwealth countries, found that only one-fifth of exporting firms are women-owned and managed. Women-owned businesses tend to employ more women and are twice as likely to have a majority share of women employees compared to men-owned firms.


Commonwealth states have the unique opportunity to trade at lower costs within the extensive Commonwealth network. Bilateral trade costs between Commonwealth partners are on average 19% lower when compared to other country pairings. By leveraging this “Commonwealth advantage” and the critical link between trade and gender, the Commonwealth can position itself at the forefront of promoting sustainable and inclusive socioeconomic development.

How to become a SheTrades Commonwealth beneficiary

For women entrepreneurs 

1 – Register now on if you are not yet a member of SheTrades’ network (note: only SheTrades members are eligible to apply as the SheTrades in the Commonwealth beneficiary)

2 – Apply on this link

3 – Only selected companies will be contacted to start the SheTrades in the Commonwealth journey with tailored training supported by mentors to be prepared to meet buyers & investors and many more business opportunities.



If you are a at least 30% owned, managed and controlled by woma(e)n; legally registered and incorporated company domiciled in an economy in Bangladesh, Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria.



And in one or several of the focused sectors:
1. Textiles, apparel and handicrafts (Manufacturer; Producer (designer); Wholesaler / distributor; Service provider; others)

2. Services (IT/ITES; BPO; Tour operators; Accommodation; MICE; others)

3. Agriculture (Tea; Coffee; Avocado; Beans; Peas; Cashew; Shea; Cocoa; others)


For Trade and Investment Support Institutions

1 – Register as verifiers on

2 – Send an email to

Project Focus

Timeframe:    2 Years

Coverage: - Commonwealth-wide support: providing governments with information and resources to implement gender-responsive trade policies and   share best practices


      •                -  Country projects in Bangladesh, Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria: building competitiveness of women-owned businesses and connecting them to trade and investment opportunities



Development Goals: Goal 1. No Poverty; Goal 5. Gender Equality; Goal 8. Decent work and Economic Growth


Commonwealth-wide support: SheTrades in the Commonwealth will provide governments with tools, information, and the capacity to implement gender responsive policies and offer a platform for governments to work collectively and share best practices. The “Global Outlook on trade and gender”, a key output of the project, is an interactive mapping tool that focuses on how effectively countries are supporting women to trade. The Outlook is based on seven dimensions and a series of indicators that measure trade inclusiveness. The tool will be available as a free, global public good on the SheTrades Platform.


Country-level interventions: The SheTrades Commonwealth project will support women-owned businesses to make them more competitive and connect them to markets. The project will work with business support organizations to improve the service offering for women entrepreneurs. It will also provide direct support to women-owned businesses, building their competitiveness and their capacity to participate in trade, through intensive training, mentoring and coaching. SheTrades Commonwealth project will engage private sector partners to adopt business practices that create economic opportunities for women-owned businesses. Trade fairs and other business generation activities will be organized to connect women entrepreneurs to potential buyers and investors.

(Geneva/Kampala) – The International Trade Centre (ITC) today announced the launch of an ambitious project to increase the competitiveness of technology companies in Uganda. ITC’s Netherlands Trust Fund IV project aims to strengthen the competitiveness of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in Uganda’s information technology (IT) and IT-enabled services (ITES) sectors.

Speaking at the launch of the project at the Africana Hotel in Kampala, ITC Executive Director Arancha González said: ‘Competitiveness is not an option. It is a necessity if countries are to seize the opportunities presented by trade and new technologies. With the NTF IV project we will open up a new chapter in ITC’s support to the development of exports of “Made in Uganda” IT and IT-enabled services.’ 

‘The NTF IV project is designed to scale up companies, provide more end-to-end solutions, engage more start-ups, and ultimately be one of the key drivers of the development of Uganda’s IT sector,’ she said.

Amelia Kyambadde, Uganda’s Minister of Trade Industry and Cooperatives, said: ‘I welcome this initiative by ITC to support us on the strengthening of Uganda’s tech industry. We know Ugandan companies have the skills to compete in international markets and NTF IV project will help some climb that last barrier and expand beyond our borders.’ 

NTF IV is a continuation of a long-running partnership between the Dutch Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI) and ITC. The project will run until June 2021 and will be working at different levels of engagement with more than 100 MSMEs in Uganda, of which more than half comprise start-up companies.

Though the NTF IV project, ITC will seek to address wider challenges facing Uganda’s nascent tech industry, including scaling up its competitiveness. There remains substantial unrealized potential for Ugandan tech companies to benefit from engagement in the domestic, regional and global. 

A lack of a local venture capital industry prevents young entrepreneurs and start-ups from accessing seed and growth funding. Meanwhile, established companies with an export track record are not able to scale up due to their limited size and resources. In response, ITC will actively be working to connect the participating companies with potential investors and partners abroad.

The NTF IV project will also place a significant focus on gender and actively promote the participation of Ugandan women in tech – especially in leadership positions. Currently, most women in the sector tend to hold lower-skilled jobs such as data entry and image tagging. During NTF IV pre-launch activities, women-led companies and start-ups have been trained on pitching to investors and two companies have been selected to take part in the SheTrades Global event set for June in Liverpool, United Kingdom.

Different categories, different benefits

NTF IV offers 18 of the supported IT and ITES exporters access to advanced advisory services and business-to-business (B2B) opportunities abroad. Two IT companies traveled to Barcelona in February to find partners and clients at the Mobile World Congress 2018, for instance. Three others, led by representatives from the ICT Association of Uganda (ICTAU) and the Alliance for Trade in Information-Technology and Services (ATIS), will take part in Transform Africa in Kigali on 7 May.

All gold companies will receive training in May – applying CBI’s tested methodology – to create export marketing plans (EMPs) detailing their strategy to export to Europe or regionally. This component includes a ‘training of trainers’ so companies in the silver category also benefit from the EMP instruction. NTF IV training offered to the 22 export-ready silver companies and the 15 ‘export rookies’ in the bronze category focuses on developing skills to grow in areas such as management, marketing and branding.

Tech start-ups are classified according to their maturity: growth, entrepreneurship and ideation. Training is offered to all categories, but the advanced start-ups will receive specialist advice and access to market and investment opportunities. For example, a Swiss start-up coach taught gold start-ups how to pitch to investors earlier this month at Kampala’s Innovation Village. In June, NTF IV will send two of these start-ups to CEBIT, one of the world’s largest technology events taking place in Hannover, Germany, to showcase their products and scout for investors.

Notes for the Editors

Learn more about the Netherlands Trust Fund project:
Learn more about NTF IV in Uganda:
Learn more about ITC’s SheTrades initiative: 

About NTF IV – The Netherlands Trust Fund IV - Export Sector Competitiveness Programme is based on a partnership agreement between the Dutch Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI) affiliated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, and International Trade Centre. The agreement was signed in September 2017 and runs through June 2021. 

About ITC
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 transition 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. For more information, visit

For more information, please contact:

International Trade Centre
Jarle Hetland
Media Officer
Office of the Executive Director
P: + 41 22 730 0145
M: + 41 79 582 9180