Women-owned small business in Central America adopt e-commerce

22 May 2020
ITC News

How women entrepreneurs are availing the opportunity to go on-line for doing business in the COVID-19 era

Shifting to e-commerce is now crucial for many small and medium businesses. But making online sales requires more than just a website. It is vital to invest in digital marketing to draw significant customer traffic.

For women entrepreneurs, it has become a question of survival.

As small and medium-sized companies find themselves looking for innovative ways to keep their business alive during these tricky times, women entrepreneurs, in particular, have been hit hard economically by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The good news is that there are solutions. It's just a matter of timely and effective adoption.

A remarkable example is being set in Central America with support from the International Trade Centre. To make the purchase of virtual products closer to the brick-and-mortar shopping experience, Central American women entrepreneurs are using high quality material and embracing technologies that augment product reality. They are developing new products, optimising their online shops and launching social media campaigns to keep their business alive to increase their customer base.

During the last few months, some of these businesses have received more than 170 online orders through their own web shops, Etsy or eBay stores from customers in Europe, USA, Puerto Rico, Canada, Russia and Australia.

Securing raw materials and supplies at a time when their traditional sources are at risk of disruption is equally important.

In addition, to help Central American businesses keep up their production during the pandemic, the International Trade Centre (ITC) together with the Secretaria de Integración Economica Centroamericana (SIECA)  organised a week of virtual business-to-business meetings.

Held late last month, these meetings connected over 150 suppliers of raw materials and handicraft businesses through the Red Centroamericana de Comercio (RCAC). More than 60 women craft businesses identified new sources of supply and gained insight into the input offerings in the region. The suppliers were able to display their products and services via the online platform. More than 300 virtual business meetings took place.

A similar event will be organized at the end of the year for an online sale of finished products.

The international Trade Centre is supporting women craft businesses in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama to increase their presence online.

Central American women craft businesses are also receiving remote support through e-commerce community engagement platform developed by the ITC e‑commerce programme "ecomConnect" where they are connected with e-commerce experts and e-commerce businesses, access free e-commerce learning resources and stay up to date with the latest tech news.

The initiative is part of the EU-funded project, Linking Central American Women-Owned Businesses with the Global Gifts and Home Decoration Market which is implemented by ITC in collaboration with SIECA and local partner institutions.