ITC  
 
Countries / Territories

International Women's Day

  • IWD 21

    From Tajikistan to Nicaragua, from tourism to textiles, businesses and government leaders around the world are sharing tips on how small businesses can survive the pandemic, focusing on women.

    To mark International Women’s Day 2021, the International Trade Centre is featuring a series of animated quote cards, with leaders suggesting solutions for small business recovery.

    The campaign also features four recent policy reports on women in trade, covering multilateral trade, bilateral trade, public procurement and an action plan presented at the latest W-20

    Women lead: small business recovery is the International Trade Centre's contribution to the United Nations’ overall campaign, called Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world. The aim is to inspire people to use policy and business ideas that help small firms recover from the pandemic.

    See campaign quote cards below, as well as on ITC social media channels.


    Maria Isabel Montoya Duarte

    We set up and optimized an online store last year, and sales from January to October even exceeded our 2019 sales in the same period by 7%.

    Maria Isabel Montoya Duarte, Founder, Nicahat, Nicaragua


    Yiva Berg

    We’ve led global projects in energy, transportation, mining and ICT. Companies won contracts of €4.7 billion, and more than half are SMEs. Our secret is to match small firms with big firms – and integrate credit agencies, the foreign ministry and our global offices. During the pandemic, thanks to this new ecosystem, we’ve held virtual roundtables in 40+ markets worldwide, to reshape our approaches to trade.

    Ylva Berg, CEO, Business Sweden
    World Trade Promotion Award for Partnerships, 2020


    Farzona

    The pandemic brought limitations, but also opportunities. I guided my team of business coaches through the crisis. We focused on ourselves, worked on life priorities, analysed the results, created new milestones and grew our business! My advice? Nothing in this world should limit your goals, nor break your beliefs.

    Farzona Tilavova, Founder, Kamolot 1 consulting, Tajikistan
    Ready4Trade Programme - participating firm


    Amb-Kirsti-Kauppi_Finland

    The COVID-19 pandemic affects us all. Small businesses need to be at the centre of recovery. Finland has increased its support to MSMEs in developing countries with special emphasis on women, youth and green recovery. We also encourage B2B connections for capacity building, innovation and increased business opportunities.

    H.E. Ambassador Kirsti Kauppi, Permanent Representative of Finland in Geneva


    Matha Miah

    From war to Ebola and COVID-19, rural women in Liberia have gone through a lot. We’re resilient. Training in agroforestry and record-keeping helps us manage our income. We’re also putting women’s issues in our cooperative discussions.

    Martha Miah, Lead Farmer, Zoyah Cooperative Nimba County, Liberia
    ITC Alliances for Action partner


    Stellamaris-SheTrades

    The pandemic hit tourism hard, but we saw opportunities within the crisis. We developed personalized tours for local Kenyans, secured COVID-19-free certificates for our staff, and adopted touchless technologies for mobile payments. In the end, we secured 150 clients in August last year – up from a monthly average of 100, before COVID-19!

    Stellamaris Kathomi, Marketing Manager Stejos Tours, Kenya
    SheTrades Commonwealth – participating firm


    Amb-Canada_

    For sustainable global growth, trade must be inclusive and equitable. COVID-19 has magnified the importance of placing these considerations at the centre of our work at the WTO. Canada is proud to play an active role in the WTO’s informal working group on trade and gender. We will continue to support women’s leadership and economic empowerment through trade.

    H.E. Ambassador Stephen de Boer, Permanent Representative of Canada to the WTO


    gambia begay

    I saw the effects of COVID-19 on business in my region. Nearly half of the businesses I coach through the National Enterprise Development Initiative were struggling to stay in business, due to financial loss. I started a fund recovery campaign for small businesses last June. To date, I've supported 5 businesses with D7,000 of equipment and machinery.

    Begay Njie, Owner, Jagleh Cosmetics & Salon, The Gambia
    Youth Empowerment Project – participating firm


    Souphaphone-Khamsennam_Lao-PDR

    The first thing you need when providing assistance during a crisis is a sound understanding of key challenges that small businesses face. Our COVID-19 impact survey enabled us to tailor support for the most impacted sectors, such as promoting tourism with our Lao Thiao Lao campaign, founding an SME Clinic, and providing access to finance for agriculture.

    Souphaphone Khamsennam, Deputy Secretary General,
    Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry,
    host of ITC Trade for Sustainable Development Hub Lao PDR


    Agrhub_

    Supporting women in agribusiness is a key mission for my company. During the pandemic, we trained a women farmers association on cluster farming, sales generation, business management, and financial literacy. We helped them set up bank accounts to track cashflow, and form a women's cooperative. As a result, they secured government-issued COVID-19 loans!

    Zainab Usman, CEO, Znt Agrihub, Nigeria
    SheTrades Commonwealth – participating firm


    Kunasova-Kyrgyzstan

    It's been a huge achievement to work in a crisis. We had more than 60 employees. During the quarantine, seamstresses went to their villages, and I was left with 10 women. We urgently needed a solution to prevent collapse! We turned to sewing masks, then to protective coveralls.
    We’ve now produced 11 000 coveralls; 8000 were sewn in our workshop, and the rest by women at home with children.
    When all in the city was closed, we worked nonstop. I had no profit, but women could feed their families in a time of full isolation. I even purchased equipment that will contribute to future growth.


    Nurzhan Kunasova, Owner Barkhat, Kyrgyzstan
    Global Textiles and Clothing Programme - participating firm


    Monica-Rubiolo

    We help producers and business people globally, to seize trade opportunities and cope with the pandemic. Women, dare to use e-commerce to speed up economic recovery.
    Digitalization is no longer a promise, but a reality – and trade is not the problem, it’s part of the solution. Mind the gap!


    Monica Rubiolo
    Head of Trade Promotion
    State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO, Switzerland


    Rika Jean-Francois

    Women have shown resilience for centuries, to help their families survive. We need to be flexible and diversify skills to develop new income sources. The pandemic has shown us once again that one shouldn't rely on tourism as a sole income source. I highly respect all the women who are bravely reinventing themselves!

    Rika Jean-François, Commissioner ITB Corporate Social Responsibility, ITB Berlin


    Shahlo Vatanova

    The coronavirus crisis showed how strong women are. I personally sat behind the sewing machine to inspire and lead my staff, all women, to continue working. Thanks to their commitment and the fact that we diversified as well as adapted our production to current needs, the factory remained open. All employees were able to keep their income despite these difficult days.

    Shahlo Vatanova, Director, State Unitary Enterprise Guldaston, Tajikistan
    Global Textiles and Clothing Programme - participating firm


    Jallow

    Since schools were closed and tailors and designers were struggling to stay in business, we engaged our students and some tailors virtually, and taught them to sew face masks. This helped many to stay in business, and provided alternative income for students.

    Rebecca Jallow, Owner Rebzdesign, The Gambia
    SheTrades - participating firm


    fulera

    I met another SheTrades entrepreneur, who directs the e-commerce platform, Organic Trade and Investments. This helped us shift our apparel business online, and increase local and international sales. Today, we are one of the main suppliers for the platform!

    Fulera Seidu, Chief Executive Officer Winamzua Creative Hive, Ghana
    SheTrades Commonwealth – participating firm


    mainuma

    Social media has helped my business. When the lockdown started, we hired a social media specialist to help us restructure our Instagram and communicate more with customers. This helped us gain more customers and move our business through the pandemic.

    Maimuna Jahateh, Owner MaiyaMuna Skin & Hair Care, The Gambia
    Youth Empowerment Project - participating firm


    Dorothy Tembo, Deputy Executive Director, International Trade Centre

    The pandemic has particularly affected women in LDCs. To invest in their businesses, their innovation and their drive is to invest in LDC resilience!

    Dorothy Tembo, Deputy Executive Director, International Trade Centre


    Assiatou Baldé

    Nous avons mis en place un plan de riposte contre la pandémie. Dans ce plan global figure en bonne place toutes les problématiques de la jeunesse. Ces mesures renforcent les jeunes entrepreneurs quant à leurs capacités techniques, institutionnelles et financières.

    S.E. Assiatou Baldé
    Ministre de la Jeunesse et de l’Emploi des Jeunes
    Guinée


    Pamela Coke Hamilton, Executive Director, International Trade Centre

    The pandemic affects women -- and women-owned businesses – hardest. We need to focus on them in our recovery process. That’s why we focus on training, market information, finance and investment for women in so many of our projects. And our SheTrades programme tailors support to get these businesses back on track!

    Pamela Coke Hamilton, Executive Director, International Trade Centre


    Doria Rey -GoMediCal

    Sur le plan personnel, la COVID a changé mes habitudes et mon mode de vie, mais pas sur le plan professionnel. J'ai la chance de travailler dans le digital. Nous nous sommes simplement adaptés à de nouveaux outils tels que Zoom ou Teams.

    Doria Rey, Directrice exécutive
    GoMediCal, Bénin
    FastTrack Afrique - entreprise participante


    Merling-Preza

    Lack of investment is stalling our growth most. We plan to invest in qualified personnel to put together strong financial proposals. It is the next step for recovery, and will help smallholders make a leap forward.

    Merling Preza
    General Manager, Prodecoop coffee cooperative, Nicaragua
    President, Pachamama smallholders global cooperative
    ITC Alliances for Action partner


    rachel

    As this year’s Chair, I hope to advance a seamless, resilient, dynamic, inclusive and sustainable Asia-Pacific economic community. Highlighting the power of inclusion for women, indigenous economies and other underrepresented groups is an immense opportunity, and more importantly, a great responsibility. As a woman in business, I understand the pandemic effect. Success will be the result of collective efforts.

    Rachel Taulelei, Chair, APEC Business Advisory Council


    Shamika-Sirimanne_UNCTAD

    Women-run digital businesses are part of the solution to an inclusive recovery. Our eTrade for Women initiative brings them to the policy-making table to unlock women's potential as a key driver of sustainable growth

    Shamika Sirimanne, Director
    Division on Technology and Logistics
    UNCTAD


    wto

    It matters that we have three women leading trade organizations in Geneva to look at issues of inequality in trade, and to bring small businesses and women into the mainstream of trade.

    Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
    Director-General
    WTO


    Tatiana-Valovaya

    Investing in grassroots, women-led businesses in low-income countries has a tangible return on the local economies.

    Tatiana Valovaya
    Director-General
    United Nations Office at Geneva


    Alifiyah-Ganijee_thumb

    Be curious and expect setbacks! Don’t just accept things… ask questions, seek answers and never stop trying to learn. In evolutionary theory, it's not always the strongest that survive, but the most adaptable.

    Alifiyah Ganijee, Head of Operations
    Beem, Tanzania
    FastTrackTech Africa - participating firm


    Emrana-Khan_Bangladesh_thumb

    During the pandemic, we redesigned our call management system to prioritize calls from doctors, nurses and other healthcare facilities. We added digital audits to our services to create a new revenue stream. As a result, we could donate essentials to an elderly care home and a local orphanage for girls.

    Emrana Khan, CEO, SuperTel, Bangladesh
    SheTrades Commonwealth - participating firm


    Marie-Louise-Bishara

    Building forward-looking skills for women is key. We introduced a garment manufacturing diploma programme for young women at the Asmarat Technology Center. We trained 28 rural women in the Menia region and sponsored machinery to move towards circular production. We created the first governmental productive training centre to host 300 students a year.

    Marie Louis Bishara
    President, Apparel Export Council of Egypt
    GTEX-MENATEX - participating institution


    Fanja-Razakaboana_Madagascar_thumbnail

    In such a crisis, investing in personal protective equipment is one of the best alternatives to save women in the textiles and clothing business. In Madagascar, we supported our members to reorient their production. Over 20 women entrepreneurs produced 300,000 masks -- sold to our government and UN agencies, and donated to vulnerable communities.

    Fanja Razakaboana, Founder and National President,
    Groupement des Femmes Entrepreneurs de Madagascar
    UK Trade Partnerships Programme - participating institution


    Dania-Mustafa-Abu-Al-Rous_thumb

    We were part of a national employment programme for women, to produce hundreds of thousands of non-medical facemasks. It opened new doors, especially for young women with children. It also helped strengthen national health measures to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic. We also focused on cash flow planning, customer communications and timely delivery.

    Dania Mustafa Abu Al Rous, Director
    Future Uniform Company, Jordan
    GTEX/MENATEX – participating firm


    Lyndah-Kembabazi_thumb

    For the 'girl' child to thrive, women must understand their potential. Regular technology workshops for young women empower them.

    Lyndah Kembabazi, Co-founder
    Kaino, Uganda
    Netherlands Trust Fund IV - participating firm


    cisse

    J'ai obtenu deux financements de plusieurs millions de francs guinéens qui m’ont permis de maintenir mon activité malgré la pandémie. J'ai pu continuer d'employer des coopératives de plus de 20 000 femmes qui m'accompagnent dans la production de pâte d'arachide naturelle. Pour moi, la réussite est avant tout collective!

    Mariame Cissé, PDG
    Cissé & Fils, Guinée
    INTEGRA - entreprise participante


    Olusola-Babatunde_thumb

    To reduce imported inputs, we started using 100% locally-sourced cotton, and now promote our merchandise as Made in Nigeria. This earned us certifications from the Standard Organisation of Nigeria and the US-African Development Foundation.

    Olusola Babatunde, Creative Director
    Onestop Celebration, Nigeria
    SheTrades Commonwealth - participating firm


    Sandra Uwera, CEO  Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa Business Council

    We're piloting a digital payments programme for small businesses across COMESA. Investing in digital financial inclusion for women is key – they’re part of the 80% of micro, small, and medium enterprises that drive our region. When you empower a woman, you empower a village, a community and the economy as a whole. This initiative is part of the private sector’s road to recovery.

    Sandra Uwera, CEO
    Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa Business Council


    Kohinoor Yeasmin, CEO, Tarango, Bangladesh  SheTrades Commonwealth - participating firm

    As many others during COVID-19, we went into mask production. But competition was stiff. We then doubled down on communicating with our buyers, designed a digital marketing and instead expanded our home decor line. In June 2020, we already succeeded in delivering our first shipment to California.

    Kohinoor Yeasmin, CEO, Tarango, Bangladesh
    SheTrades Commonwealth - participating firm


    Anastasia-Beltz_thumb

    During the pandemic, we changed the strategy and vision of our clothing company for young women, and focused on online sales. We expanded our client base and doubled turnover last year. We then invested it in a plot of land, and are are building our own workshop.

    Anastasia Beltz, Owner BelMaRo, Kyrgyzstan
    Global Textiles and Clothing Programme - participating firm


    mary m

    For our business to recover and thrive, we’re broadening our supply chain, forwards and backwards. Forwards, by moving closer to the consumer. Backwards, by working closely with farmers and processors to make sure our cocoa is sustainable.

    Mary Marshall, Manager R&D, Niche Cocoa Industry, Ghana
    ITC Alliances for Action partner


    keeling

    Our first priority in the pandemic: protect the health and safety of all our employees and communities across our operations internationally.
    The pandemic presented numerous challenges in the fresh produce industry. Our amazing people found solutions to deliver essential foods to customers and food banks.
    We recognize our important support role during these difficult times - as a customer of small producers and supplier to small businesses.


    Caroline Keeling, CEO
    Keelings, Ireland


    Battouly-

    Lancer son business à 23 ans pendant une pandémie, quel challenge ! J'ai bénéficié d'un appui technique, de séances de coaching en entrepreneuriat, et de conseils sur l’accès au financement, grâce à quoi nous avons réussi à débloquer un financement de 210 millions de francs guinéens. Nous avons notamment pu engager plus de collaborateurs.

    Battouly Diallo, Fondatrice
    Nettoyage Plus, Guinée
    INTEGRA - entreprise participante


    Collette-Traoré

    Pendant la pandémie, mon entreprise a bénéficié des services d’un incubateur. Cela nous a permis de développer des produits de décoration d’intérieure haut de gamme avec du coton 100 % malien. Notre notoriété acquise sur les réseaux sociaux a renforcé la visibilité des femmes artisanes au sein de leur communauté, ainsi que leur confiance en elles.

    Collette Traoré
    Association Femmes Artisanes de Tissage Traditionnel
    Projet Mode Ethique au Mali – entrepreneure participante


    fatma b soltane

    Le confinement était une opportunité pour se rapprocher de nos clients et les motiver à faire du sport chez eux. Nous avons très vite mis en ligne notre e-shop et publié du contenu de notre communauté sur les réseaux sociaux. Malgré la pandémie, nous avons progressé de 200% par rapport à 2019.

    Fatma Ben Soltane, PDG
    Fierce Sportswear & Activewear, Tunisie
    GTEX/MENATEX - entreprise participante


    Maimuna-Jahateh_

    Social media has helped my business. When the lockdown started, we hired a social media specialist to help us restructure our Instagram and communicate more with customers. This helped us gain more customers and move our business through the pandemic.

    Maimuna Jahateh, Owner MaiyaMuna Skin & Hair Care, The Gambia
    Youth Empowerment Project - participating firm


    sharon

    I adapted my business strategy during COVID-19 to be less dependent on local supermarkets as our main buyers. I now look to engage hotels and restaurants as buyers, and expand beyond Rwanda to East Africa.

    Sharon Akanyana, Founder
    Ishyo Foods, Rwanda
    SheTrades Rwanda - participating firm


    Chemutai-Ruto_thumb

    As COVID-19 gripped Kenya, demand for digitalization and e-commerce rose significantly. That's when my team and I decided to develop e-commerce platforms for our own company and for other businesses.

    Chemutai Ruto, CEO Gallant
    Corporate Services, Kenya
    SheTrades Commonwealth - participating firm


    Fulera-Seidu_thumb

    I met another SheTrades entrepreneur, who directs the e-commerce platform, Organic Trade and Investments. This helped us shift our apparel business online, and increase local and international sales. Today, we are one of the main suppliers for the platform!

    Fulera Seidu, Chief Executive Officer Winamzua Creative Hive, Ghana
    SheTrades Commonwealth – participating firm


    Pedro-Prada_PROCOMER_thumb

    We target women-owned businesses as part of our Green Growth Platform, offering technology solutions and business mentoring.
    In one case, we helped a woman radically transform her fruit cleaning and packaging business: she saved 97% of water used in production, cut waste by 50%, got certified, and improved exports to Europe by 35%!
    Supporting green growth can get small firms through the pandemic.


    Pedro Beirute Prada, CEO
    Costa Rica Export Promotion Agency
    World Trade Promotion Award for Sustainability, 2020


    Shahlo-Vatanova_thumb

    The coronavirus crisis showed how strong women are. I personally sat behind the sewing machine to inspire and lead my staff, all women, to continue working. Thanks to their commitment and the fact that we diversified as well as adapted our production to current needs, the factory remained open. All employees were able to keep their income despite these difficult days.

    Shahlo Vatanova, Director, State Unitary Enterprise Guldaston, Tajikistan
    Global Textiles and Clothing Programme - participating firm


    Tadhim-Uwizeye_thumb

    Give girls access to education! Empower young women in tech from an early age! For this, they need platforms that inspire them to become powerful and achieve economic success!

    Tadhim Uwizeye, Co-founder
    Olado, Rwanda
    FastTrackTech Africa - participating firm