Case study: Business support organizations underpin integration in ECOWAS
The ‘four Cs’ – COVID, climate, conflict and cost-of-living – greatly tested small businesses around the world and set back the Sustainable Development Goals. This case study, from the ITC Annual Report 2022, highlights how the International Trade Centre helped entrepreneurs find new ways to prosperity through trade.
Business support organizations in the Economic Community of West Africa States face many challenges affecting their ability to effectively support the trade competitiveness of enterprises in the region. Critical issues include weak governance, poor service delivery capabilities, inadequate strategies, limited financial and human resources, and insufficient trade knowledge and experience among staff. These shortcomings reduce the trade opportunities for MSMEs arising from deepened regional integration and potential linkages to regional and global value chains.
The ECOWAS Trade Promotion Organization (TPO) Network was established to create a strong regional alliance, pooling resources for trade development and promotion. The network is backed by the June 2021 decision C/DEC.2/06/21 of the 86th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers.
In 2022, ITC and the ECOWAS Commission supported the network to formulate its strategic programming documentation and enhance its visibility; hold its second General Assembly; broker collaborative relationships with various regional and international public and private organizations; and train the staff of member TPOs. Network members also took part in the World Trade Promotion Organizations Conference in Accra, Ghana, enabling them to interact and learn from peers from around the world.
ECOWAS TPO Network members now regularly exchange information on business opportunities and are helping West African firms participate in regional and international trade. Under the leadership of the ECOWAS Commission, the network will showcase the region at the Intra-African Trade Fair 2023 organized by the African Export-Import Bank and the AfCFTA Secretariat. The network has a robust resource mobilization framework guiding its engagement with regional and international financial and other partners. Its visibility has been greatly enhanced within Africa and around the world.
Thanks to ITC capacity building and training, more than 100 staff of the ECOWAS TPO Network have stronger skills and more effective tools to deliver trade support services to firms and also results-based management-oriented project cycle management. The TPOs have developed the capacity to provide trade and market intelligence and organize events such as trade fairs and missions.
- Training and capacity building
- Six TPO Network senior leaders coached on resource mobilization
- 10 technical staff trained on how to manage ECOWAS TPO Network Secretariat
- 54 TPO Network staff trained on service portfolio development and delivery
- 36 TPO Network staff trained on tools for business generation and trade promotion
- 35 TPO Network staff trained on results-based management
- 66 technical staff of TPOs and regional BSOs trained on trade information management
- TPO Network resource mobilization strategy
- TPO Network programming document
- TPO Network website and promotional material with branding guidelines
In collaboration with the ECOWAS Commission, ITC expects to continue to provide direct support to national TPOs, chambers of commerce and women’s business associations, among others, to secure a stronger client base and an even deeper trickling down of services and their benefits to MSMEs in the region.