Press releases

ITC, ADB unlock sustainable and inclusive growth for women-led businesses in Asia

21 March 2024
ITC News

(Geneva/Manila) — The International Trade Centre (ITC) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) partner to promote women’s economic empowerment and sustainable trade through small businesses, across Asia and in the Pacific, with the signing of an agreement on 20 March.

Moving towards gender equality

Countries become more competitive in the global economy when they provide greater economic opportunities for women and create an environment that supports women’s entrepreneurship. ITC surveys, however, show that only one out of five exporting firms is owned and led by women. At the regional level, the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2023 reveals a 30% gender gap in “economic participation and opportunity” in Central, East and Pacific Asia, and a 60% disparity in South Asia. Key challenges to women's full integration into the global economy include a lack of training opportunities and access to finance.

The ‘SheTrades–Asian Development Bank: Advancing Women’s Economic Empowerment’ project will target Bengali, Vietnamese and Russian-speaking women entrepreneurs with free, personalized online courses, to enable them to participate in regional and global value chains. The project will also equip ADB partner banks with tailored gender financing methodologies and practices to support gender equality in the financial world.

ADB Director General for Private Sector Operations Department, Suzanne Gaboury said, “ADB’s Trade and Supply Chain Finance Program continues to deliver on its gender action plan to drive greater inclusivity and address gender inequities in the workplace. Partnerships are critical to driving this agenda, such as with ITC SheTrades, with its deep expertise on the intersectionality of gender and trade”.

ITC Executive Director Pamela Coke Hamilton said: ‘Our collaboration with ADB goes beyond fostering economic growth across Asia and the Pacific. We are working to create a future where gender equality and sustainability become cornerstones of the global trading system.’

Both ITC and ADB see this partnership as a significant step towards achieving gender equality and sustainable and inclusive economic growth for small businesses across Asia.

Notes for the Editor

About ITC

The International Trade Centre is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

For more information, visit

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About ADB

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

For more information, visit

About the ITC SheTrades Initiative

ITC launched the ITC SheTrades Initiative to remove barriers to women's participation in trade by working with governments, the private sector and entrepreneurs to build the business capacities of women and to create a fairer, more sustainable global economy. ITC SheTrades provides women entrepreneurs and producers with access to key knowledge, resources and networks; supports policymakers on inclusive policy reforms; and leverages public and private partnerships to amplify the impact of its work.

Media contact ITC

Susanna Pak
Senior Strategic Communications Officer
International Trade Centre
E: pak [at] (pak[at]intracen[dot]org)
T: +41 22 730 0651

Media contact ADB

John Larkin
Principal Communications Specialist
Asian Development Bank
E: privatesectormedia [at] (privatesectormedia[at]adb[dot]org)
T: +632 8 6234444