SheTrades in the Commonwealth

About the Project



The SheTrades Commonwealth project aims to increase economic growth and job creation in Commonwealth countries by enabling the increased participation of women-owned businesses in international trade. The project is funded by the UK Department for International Development and implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC) under the framework of the SheTrades Initiative.


Trade, especially by women-owned enterprises, can be an effective driver for the economic inclusion of women. Women-owned exporting firms earn more, employ more people, and pay higher wages. Enabling women to participate in trade and improving the performance of micro, small and medium-sized (MSMEs) can translate into increased trade, productivity, and competitiveness. This can help drive overall economic expansion, job creation, innovation, and human development. If women are to play an active role in shaping institutions, social norms, and the well-being of their communities, their participation in trade is crucial.

ITC’s recent Business Survey, including 11 Commonwealth countries, found that only one-fifth of exporting firms are women-owned and managed. Women-owned businesses tend to employ more women and are twice as likely to have a majority share of women employees compared to men-owned firms.

Commonwealth states have the unique opportunity to trade at lower costs within the extensive Commonwealth network, saving up to 19% of trade costs. By leveraging this “Commonwealth advantage” and the critical link between trade and gender, the Commonwealth can position itself at the forefront of promoting sustainable and inclusive socioeconomic development.


Project Focus
Coverage: – Cross-Commonwealth: facilitating gender-responsive trade policies
– Country projects in Bangladesh, Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria: building competitiveness of women-owned businesses and connecting them to trade and investment opportunities
Timeframe: 2 Years
Sustainable Development Goals: Goal 1. No Poverty; Goal 5. Gender Equality; Goal 8. Decent work and Economic Growth

High-level cross-Commonwealth: SheTrades in the Commonwealth will provide governments with tools, information, and the capacity to implement gender responsive policies. SheTrades Outlook, key output of the project, is an interactive mapping tool that focuses on how effectively countries are supporting women to trade. The Outlook is based on seven dimensions and a series of indicators that measure trade inclusiveness. The tool will be available as a free, global public good on the SheTrades Platform.


Country-level interventions: The SheTrades Commonwealth project will support women-owned businesses to make them more competitive and connect them to markets. The project will work with business support organizations to improve the service offering for women entrepreneurs. It will also provide direct support to women-owned businesses, building their competitiveness and their capacity to participate in trade, through intensive training, mentoring and coaching. SheTrades Commonwealth project will engage private sector partners to adopt business practices that create economic opportunities for women-owned businesses. Trade fairs and other business generation activities will be organized to connect women entrepreneurs to potential buyers and investors.

Learn more and apply for this opportunity here.

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