ITC SheTrades and UPS Drive Digital Transformation for Women Entrepreneurs

19 February 2021
ITC News

To help women entrepreneurs emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, the International Trade Centre’s SheTrades Initiative and world's largest package delivery company, UPS, are focussing on boosting the digital transformation of women-led businesses.

The ITC SheTrades initiative aims to connect three million women to markets and rallies stakeholders around the world to work together to break down trade barriers and create greater opportunities for women entrepreneurs. It is supported by a web and mobile digital platform.

By bringing together UPS’s smart global logistics network and knowledge and ITC’s SheTrades initiative, the partnership aims to help women in business succeed in international markets by making the process of exporting easier and more efficient.

Covid-19’s Impact on Women-led Businesses

The Covid-19 pandemic exposed the vulnerabilities small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) and particularly those in the hospitality, textiles and apparel sectors. Women-led firms operate in several of these sectors, and 64% of them have stated that their operations have been significantly impacted by the pandemic.

Recognizing the need for improved and effective digitalisation to ensure these business’s survival and growth and boost their resilience against future economic downturns, ITC SheTrades and UPS enlisted digital transformation experts to offer virtual training and bootcamps to women entrepreneurs in three of their project countries: India, Mexico and Vietnam.

Held in October and November 2020, the bootcamps focused on digital marketing, e-commerce, cybersecurity and understanding the online consumer. The events, relevant tools and supporting materials were also made available to all SheTrades members through the online platform.

Business Bootcamp Entrepreneurs

Almost 700 women attended the virtual bootcamps held for Vietnam, Mexico and India. More than 90% of the participants reported the training helped them identify strategies on how to scale up and improve their digital business operations, while almost all confirmed that they had improved their knowledge and skills on privacy and data protection.

Cyntia Reyes operates her sustainable children’s clothing line, Chiquitito Detalles in Mexico, with 6 artisans and workers. Prior to the coaching programme, she was trying to launch her online store and implement a marketing funnel to enhance the user experience and track the customer journey. But she faced low user engagement and high service commissions. Following her coaching with SheTrades and UPS Project, Reyes developed a digital marketing strategy using Facebook and email, leveraging El Buen Fin, the national shopping festival in Mexico.

Reyes implemented different payment methods to enhance her online store, mitigating high costs and commissions. She also developed a holistic sales proposition that reduced her shipping charges and elevated her brand value on social media. Through a tailored strategy for Buen Fin, she increased her online sales by 30%. She has also expanded her marketplace to Facebook and Whatsapp, thereby increasing exports to USA, Canada and other global markets.

Madhumita Sarkar Guha in India owns Luxe Living, a manufacturer of unique home furnishing accessories such as ethnic printed/painted curtains, cushions, throws and rugs. Since opening in 2016, she has expanded into clothing and fashion accessories, incorporating traditional Kolkata prints in her products. Guha soon realized that digital marketing and online business were essential to reaching a larger consumer base and growing her market access. As a result of the coaching programme under the SheTrades and UPS Project, she strengthened the digital marketing and branding of her business, improved customer feedback and the functionality of her online store.

She has expanded her online presence to key marketplaces in India, such as Etsy, Amazon, Nykaa and Pernia’s Popup Shop. Today, Luxe Living is on the way to scaling up and doubling revenues through its enhanced digital presence and improved export readiness.

For queries regarding SheTrades, please email: womenandtrade [at] (womenandtrade[at]intracen[dot]org).