About Us

As a contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals, the International Trade Centre has launched the SheTrades initiative to create an ecosystem of integrated solutions that empower women economically through trade.

Through country-based activities, SheTrades enables women entrepreneurs to improve the quality of their products and services. 
There have been more than 10 SheTrades country launches where governments have embraced the initiative and adapted it to local context to ensure that women have a greater role in their economies. More than 120 corporations and institutions have signed up to support the initiative.

Be part of this movement. Join SheTrades and watch your business grow!

Our goal

Connect 3 million women to market by 2021

Whilst women’s economic empowerment has been on the global development agenda for almost two decades, knowledge about female entrepreneurship has been fragmentary, and the business and economic cases are not articulated fully. Our month’s long consultations in 2015 with thought leaders around the world sought to ramp up the trajectory towards eradicating extreme poverty by 2030. These consultations revealed that a key challenge is the persisting silos between the various actors working in this area, as well as the substantive components of women’s enterprise development including research, policy, finance, access to markets; and capacity building.

Women’s economic empowerment is not a matter for government policy, the private sector, or social change alone. All have critical roles to play. This is why we at the International Trade Centre have launched the “SheTrades” initiative, which seeks to connect three million women entrepreneurs to market by 2021.

We invite you to make your commitment towards the SheTrades initiative. Complete our quick survey to endorse the initiative. Together we are able to connect one million women to market by enhancing their competitiveness and creating sustainable connections between buyers, partners and women entrepreneurs.


Make Your Commitment

The initiative outlines seven global actions in which governments, the private sector and civil society groups can make concrete pledges to remedy obstacles hampering women-owned businesses. It is a roadmap for women’s economic empowerment. 

Discover the seven global actions below.

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Champion. Quality data


1. Champion. Quality data
Quality data related to women’s economic participation is limited. Research and analysis can provide an evidence-base to inform the development of meaningful policies and programmes.

SheTrades invites you/your institution to:

- mandate the collection of sex-disaggregated data and baselines related to the economic participation of women in business ownership, including company registers, and to collect key data with regard to sectors, accelerators and obstacles to women’s business growth;
- collect and share sex-disaggregated data gathered through the procurement process. In addition to informing business progress, doing so will contribute to the development of the business and economic cases for inclusive global value chains;
- ensure that women are identified and visible in the economy by capturing the percentage and amount of budget and spend allotted for doing business with companies owned by women;
- provide coverage of women entrepreneurs, women’s entrepreneurship, and relevant research, white papers, and the like produced by women economists and thought leaders.

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Enact. Fair policies


2. Enact. Fair policies

There is a growing acknowledgement that gender-based inequalities impact trade policy outcomes and trade performance. Through SheTrades we encourage and support governments to level the playing field for women entrepreneurs.

SheTrades invites you/your institution to:

- integrate gender awareness and consideration of gender into trade policies and agreements in order to proactively include women and women-owned businesses in the global market;
- offer mentorship, training and education about local, regional and global trends, legislation, policies, taxation and service/product/solution gaps that generate opportunities for women-owned businesses.

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Secure. Government contracts


3. Secure. Government contracts

Governments across the world spend around $13T dollars on purchasing goods and services. In developing countries, the share of public spend can be as much as 40% of annual GDP, yet only an estimated 1% of this is spent with women suppliers

ITC is providing governments with practical ways to open up procurement markets for women, including a guide for procurement officers, an e-learning course, and procurement map – an online tool where we publish 150,000 public tenders each day.

SheTrades invites you/your institution to:

- promote the participation of women-owned businesses in public procurement markets by adopting transparent and inclusive procurement policies using the full range of such policy measures available in line with international best practices and standards, including preferential policies, with the aim of achieving wide-reaching results and impacting corporate supply chains;
- consider corporate commitment to gender equality, including supplier diversity, when making decisions about which businesses to procure from or partner with;
- set a minimum 10% or more public procurement target from businesses that are certified to an accepted standard definition of ownership, management and control by one or more women;
- adopt a standard definition of women-owned business, setting guidelines on ownership, management and control, and to require proof of certification from a third party certifying organisation;
- take measures to remove demand side barriers, including those found in tender design, qualification and requirements, and access to information on tender opportunities and payments;
- take measures to address supply side constraints by facilitating or supporting training, mentoring and capacity building to enable more women-owned businesses to access contracts and sell to governments as well as foreign governments.

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Strike. Business deals


4. Strike business deals

To capitalise on the supplier diversity initiatives that the majority of the Fortune 500 companies promote, and those of companies in the south that are increasingly pursuing diverse supply chainsasa means to optimising their procurement functions to support profit, growth, efficiency and sustainability objectives.

SheTrades invites you/your institution to:

  • conduct a baseline study to understand from where they are procuring their goods and services, and the percentage that is going to women’s business enterprises;
  • make supply chains inclusive, and set a minimum 10% or more procurement target from businesses that are certified to a standard definition of ownership, management and control by one or more women;
  • build capacity of women-owned enterprises as suppliers, through supplier development programmes and corporate mentoring;
  • formulate incentives for the private sector to source from women suppliers, such as policies relating to subcontracting of public tenders to tier 2 suppliers;
  • build capacity for corporations and trade and investment promotion organisations on how to create national, regional and global supplier diversity and inclusion programmes focused on women-owned businesses.
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Enable. Market access


5. Enable. Market access
Women face greater hurdles in setting up and growing their businesses. ITC’s surveys revealed that only one in five exporting companies are women-owned, and that women face greater procedural obstacles to trade. Women’s businesses tend to be smaller and concentrated in less productive sectors. Women-owned businesses need to scale, focus on more productive sectors and move up the value chain, in order to more successfully compete in the increasingly complex trade landscape.

SheTrades invites you/your institution to:

- develop strategies and deliver tailored capacity and skills development for strengthening entrepreneurial and leadership skills to enhance women' s participation in trade;
- apply a gender lens to addressing non-tariff measures that often disproportionately affect, the ability of women-owned businesses to benefit from full participation in trade;

- embrace innovation as well as information and communication technologies to increase the competitiveness of women-owned businesses, and to fuel growth.Nam nec ante.

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Unlock. Financial services


6. Unlock. Financial services
Women entrepreneurs are more likely than their male counterparts to cite access to finance as a severe constraint to their business operations. Sometimes women are held back by lack of information and financial literacy. Yet women control more than US$20 trillion in global consumer spending. Bold steps need to be taken to close the access to financial service gap between men and women,including bank accounts, saving, housing finance, SME loans, equity, insurance products and digital payments.

SheTrades invites you/your institution to:

- craft a legal and regulatory environment where access to and control of financial services can be delivered effectively to women, including through the use of technology;
- invest in non-financial services such as mentorships, financial literacy classes and business coaching on financial planning and business management;
- offer short term trade finance, which would benefit both men and women, but can specifically lower capital barriers for women;
- develop innovative sources of information to establish credit worthiness beyond collateral to include a social network analysis, psychometric testing, etc.

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Grant. Ownership rights


7. Grant. Ownership rights
Over turning legal impediments to women’s economic participation is within the sphere of control of policy makers seeking to boost economic growth. In many countries for example, women have less access, ownership, and control over resources than men, a key barrier to participation in the formal economy.

SheTrades invites you/your institution to:

undertake legislative and administrative reforms to guarantee women’s and girls’ rights to full and equal access to ownership and control over resources, including the right to inheritance and land titling, credit, financial services, and the right to enter into contracts. Nam nec ante.

Partners and Supporters

ITC SheTrades Partnership

The SheTrades initiative is funded by the UK Department for International Development, the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iceland as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands with funds provided by ITC’s Global Trust Fund.

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SheTrades works with a variety of partners across the world, including trade support institutions, cooperatives, alliances and private sector companies.

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