Press releases

WTO, ITC launch $50 million global fund for women exporters in the digital economy

25 February 2024
ITC News

The World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Trade Centre (ITC) today launched a $50 million global fund supporting women to tap into opportunities in international trade and the digital economy on the sidelines of the 13th Ministerial Conference taking place in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The Women Exporters in the Digital Economy (WEIDE) Fund will help women-led businesses and women entrepreneurs in developing countries and least-developed countries adopt digital technologies and expand the online presence of their enterprises.

WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said: "Digital trade, and more specifically digitally delivered services trade, is the fastest growing segment of international trade – growing at 8% on average since 2005. In the era of digital trade, those who were left behind in the first wave of globalization have the opportunity to benefit now and do things differently. Digitalization presents us with unprecedented opportunities to empower women entrepreneurs, level the playing field and foster inclusive growth."

ITC Executive Director Ms. Pamela Coke-Hamilton said: "Time and time again, women in developing countries tell us that access to finance is a key barrier to trade. With this new Fund, women entrepreneurs will have the resources they need to do business across borders and online."

Dr. Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, United Arab Emirates, said: “Empowering women in trade is key to unlocking the full potential of our economies. Improving access to finance is essential to that goal. This new Fund is a significant step, enabling brilliant women entrepreneurs to find the capital they need to turn ideas into successful and growing companies. The UAE is proud to play its part in supporting this vital initiative”.

The UAE is allocating USD 5 million to the Fund as its first donor.

The launch took place during the WTO-ITC High-Level Event on Women and Trade, a two-day conference on women’s economic empowerment preceding the start of negotiations by the WTO’s highest decision-making body. Ministers from across the world are gathering to take action on the future work of the WTO, at the conference hosted by the United Arab Emirates.

The WEIDE Fund will open for applications from women exporters in the second quarter of 2024. Information on how to apply will be circulated soon.

On day one of the WTO-ITC High-Level Event on Women and Trade, WTO and ITC co-hosted the SheTrades Summit, gathering more than 250 women entrepreneurs from over 60 countries, as well as global business leaders (from Visa, UPS, etc.) and international development partners.

Participants discussed concrete solutions to the challenges facing women entrepreneurs and explored opportunities for women to access new markets in an increasingly green and digital global trading system. They also attended masterclasses delivered by leading experts from ITC, Visa, DHL, Sidley Austin and the World Intellectual Property Organization.

ITC also extended its collaboration with the Dubai Economic Development Corporation to host the ITC SheTrades Middle East and North Africa Hub and signed a memorandum of understanding with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council to continue hosting the SheTrades Hub in the country. That brings the number of ITC SheTrades Hubs worldwide to 17, including two regional Hubs.


Notes for the Editor

About WTO

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. The topmost decision-making body of the WTO is the Ministerial Conference, which usually meets every two years. It brings together all members of the WTO. The WTO's 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) will take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

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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.

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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 contacts

Jessica Hermosa
Communications Officer
World Trade Organization
E: Jessica.Hermosa [at] (Jessica[dot]Hermosa[at]wto[dot]org)

Edison Yap
Associate Economic Affairs Officer
International Trade Centre
E: zyap [at] (zyap[at]intracen[dot]org)