The power of inter-agency partnerships

28 June 2022
ITC News

ITC and the UN Global Compact commit to making small businesses more sustainable, competitive, and resilient through deeper collaboration

The International Trade Centre (ITC) recognizes that ‘Partnerships4Purpose’ can contribute to impactful projects and sustainable outcomes. To celebrate the teamwork behind these efforts, ITC is proud to highlight game-changing initiatives that are made possible through strong and meaningful collaboration.

Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are the backbone of economic life. As we commemorate the 5th anniversary of the UN MSME Day in 2022, these small businesses have proven to be both resilient and innovative in the face of COVID-related disruptions and uncertainty. Yet MSMEs are not out of the woods. Small businesses, especially those from developing countries, are still impacted by the "Three C's": COVID-19, climate and conflict. It is more important than ever for international organizations to work together to support MSMEs and create an enabling environment in which they can grow and thrive.

Therefore, at the World Economic Forum in May, Pamela Coke-Hamilton, the Executive Director of the International Trade Centre and Sanda Ojiambo, the CEO of the United Nations Global Compact signed a Letter of Intent to leverage the unique but complementary institutional strengths of the two agencies.


The unique approach: UN inter-agency partnership in action

ITC has a long history of delivering technical assistance to build the competitiveness of MSMEs. From empowering women’s economic transformation and supporting the circular economy, to making digital tools accessible and developing agriculture value chains, ITC has been the lead UN agency in working with and for small business. The UN Global Compact’s expertise in promoting the adoption and implementation of responsible business norms bolsters MSME contributions to sustainable development; and their new approach to working with small business will align well with ITC’s existing model. 

As part of this partnership, the UN Global Compact and ITC will launch a pilot on supply chain impact. By working along the entire value chain, from lead firms to MSMEs in supply chains, this pilot initiative sets out to transform global value chains so that value is distributed more fairly, and production processes are greener and more sustainable.

Additionally, the two organizations will deepen existing collaborations such as scaling up training and capacity-building to support MSMEs; increasing country-level coordination; collaborating on women’s economic empowerment initiatives; and building deeper engagement within Africa around access to markets for MSMEs and the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area.


The impact: Gender-responsive solutions


ITC and UN Global Compact have worked very well together before, including in gender equality and promoting the Women’s Empowerment Principles. Most recently working alongside a coalition of UN and private-sector partners, UN Global Compact and ITC have seen their partnership pay off in the Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator, accelerating impact in areas such as gender-responsive procurement and beyond.


Moving forward: A strong, long-lasting partnership


With the Letter of Intent, ITC and the UN Global Compact are signalling the importance of partnerships and working together to assist small businesses around the world. This is an additional step toward what promises to be a fruitful partnership—one that will help guide MSMEs along their journey to deliver on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.