The virtual event was attended by WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, ICC Secretary General John Denton, ITC Secretary General Pamela Coke-Hamilton and Ambassador Jose-Luis Cancela, Coordinator of the Informal Working Group on MSMEs.

DG Okonjo-Iweala said: “Going online has allowed many MSMEs to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those that did best were digitally prepared and had strategies for making their product offerings digitally accessible or deliverable by post.  But many MSMEs could not make the transition, whether for want of infrastructure or because they lack the necessary understanding of e-commerce.”  

She added: “We need to do more to make the digital economy accessible for all businesses, of all sizes. And that is exactly what this Digital Champions for Small Business initiative is about.”  

The winners of the initiative are the Economic Chamber of North Macedonia, the Lima Chamber of Commerce (Peru), TAITRA (Chinese Taipei) and TofaraOnline (Zimbabwe). They will receive training on the use of digital technologies from the initiative's partner organisations, including Zoom and Google.  

The Economic Chamber of North Macedonia aims to make business processes digital and to issue certified, legally binding e-documents related to exports and international trade, with plans to scale up the project across south-eastern Europe.

The Economic Chamber said: “With this project, we are facilitating international trade by helping businesses to go digital and to cope with the difficulties imposed by COVID-19. Next year, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Chamber so this award is very important to us. It affirms our commitment to help our members keep up with the latest developments in the business world in areas such as digitalization.”

The Lima Chamber of Commerce intends to help MSMEs in Latin America digitalize their business processes by providing them with access to training and a technology platform that allows interactions with current and potential clients.

The Lima Chamber of Commerce said: “Our project uses digital technologies to convert our business services from face-to-face to digital or virtual, helping small businesses break down technological barriers. The competition was an opportunity to share our proposal, which will benefit a great number of small businesses through their digital transformation.”

TAITRA aims to create a digital trade platform to help MSMEs and start-ups in Asia increase their capacity to make use of e-commerce. This includes training on creating virtual showrooms and the display of goods online. It will also establish an online Digital Trade Academy.

TAITRA said: “MSMEs are at the forefront of innovation, and they are the world’s best hope of building a better tomorrow. TAITRA looks forward to enabling more MSMEs to team up with digital technology start-ups so that they can reach global markets and unlock the immense opportunities in the new digital economy.” 

TofaraOnline is a digital marketing and innovation organization in Africa. Its “Tech-driven Entrepreneur” project will offer training and workshops on developing effective digital marketing campaigns. The workshops will cover a variety of marketing topics in a three-week training period.

TofaraOnline said: “I believe MSMEs have a huge potential to create decent work and to contribute immensely to economic growth. However, lack of digital skills and information on how they can grow businesses online has led to the closure of businesses and the loss of jobs. The Digital Champions for Small Business initiative is an opportunity for MSMEs to learn the digital skills required to survive in this digital economy.”




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