Press releases

ITC Completes Inaugural Trade Leaders Programme

24 January 2011
ITC News

The International Trade Centre (ITC) has successfully completed its inaugural Trade Leaders Programme, sponsored by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). Three trade leaders from Burkina Faso, Malawi and Kenya took part in the six-month work and training programme in Geneva.

The in-depth programme was designed so that participants can lead ongoing trade development initiatives in their countries by applying their newly acquired knowledge, network of contacts and work experience. The participants will act as ambassadors of ITC’s mission to generate ‘export impact for good’ and build long-term partnerships between ITC and the national partner institutions.

The trade leaders worked in ITC’s Market Analysis and Research section but were also involved in other ITC programmes including on women in trade. The trade leaders received a strong grounding in the fundamentals of trade-related analysis, including identifying opportunities to improve national export performance through product and market diversification and analysing market access opportunities and obstacles.

Programme head Helen Lassen said: ‘The ITC Trade Leaders Programme is designed to have a profound effect on a small group of influential individuals, who can then act as national multipliers, helping their countries derive sustainable social, environmental and economic impact from their exports.’

ITC will provide regular ongoing mentoring and follow-up support to the participants. In 12 months’ time they will report on how the training and work experience has contributed to building sustained capacity to conduct market analysis and research in their country and how this translates into export impact.

One of the participants, Catherine Kithinji, said: ‘I have gained a wealth of knowledge and experience that will enhance my ability to make a strong future contribution to trade and development in Kenya. Working in a multicultural and international United Nations environment was an interesting and very positive learning experience.’

During their six months at ITC, participants contributed to ITC’s mandate ‘Export Impact for Good’ by working on specific projects and drawing on their specialist knowledge of the potential for, and obstacles to, trade expansion of their countries or region.

Following a five-week induction programme, each trade leader was given a work programme customized to their particular skills and experience. Each focused on areas of export potential and strategy, non-tariff measure analysis and becoming a trainer of ITC’s market access tools.

Mondher Mimouni, Chief ad-interim of the Market Analysis and Research section said, ‘In addition to receiving training, our 2010 Trade Leaders made an important contribution to ITC’s analysis of non-tariff market access obstacles facing exporters in their countries. Their insight and network of contacts increased the relevance of the studies, national ownership by public and private sector stakeholders and therefore the likelihood of real follow-up action.’

In September, the trade leaders travelled to Chongqing, China to participate in ITC’s World Export Development Forum where they had the opportunity to network with other trade and development professionals and share knowledge about export-led growth strategies.

Following the success of the inaugural programme, ITC’s Executive Director Ms. Francis said ‘The 2010 Trade Leaders Programme is a good example of the direction we want to head with our capacity building. Through in-depth training like this we build deep capacity and long-term relationships that have the greatest potential to generate impact. We will run the programme again in 2011 if funding can be sought.’

About the participants:  

Catherine Kithinji  

Senior Trade Development Officer, Ministry of Trade, Kenya  

Ms. Kithinji has been involved in negotiating bilateral trade agreements between Kenya and the Middle East and has worked in pro-women empowerment projects in the agricultural sector. Following her ITC placement and return to Kenya’s Ministry of Trade Ms. Kithinji aims to deliver training for Kenyan women entrepreneurs and exporters on ITC’s market analysis tools.


Paulin Gueswinde Zambelongo  

Councillor of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Trade, Burkina Faso 

Mr. Zambelongo has contributed to Burkina Faso’s export promotion strategy and is a founding member of the Trade Experts Network in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). At ITC he played a key role in an analysis report outlining the key non-tariff market access issues for Burkina Faso. Returning to the Ministry of Trade he will be actively involved in the implementation of a trade related programme under the Enhanced Integrated Framework.

Max John Wengawenga  

Senior Economist, Ministry of Trade & Industry, Malawi     

Mr. Wengawenga is an adviser to senior management on Malawi export promotion and has trained officials in marketing, food security and vulnerability analysis. At ITC, he has been instrumental in obtaining national-level commitment to an analysis of Malawi’s non-tariff market access measures, which he will continue to follow on his return and will also conduct a study of Malawi’s export potential.