Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have been particularly hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to ITC’s COVID-19 Business Impact Survey, more than 55% of SMEs reported being strongly affected by the crisis. One-fifth are at risk of permanently shutting down within three months.
For women-owned businesses, the business fallout from COVID-19 is even more severe.
· Many female business owners face more challenges than their male counterparts, including limited access to finance, male-dominated networks and often the extra burden of being primary caregivers in their households.
· ITC’s SheTrades Commonwealth found that a significant proportion of 300 women-owned businesses in Bangladesh, Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria reported the risk of closing down.
· Women also constitute 66% of employees who were laid off as a result of the pandemic.
Business support organizations (BSOs) can provide timely, context-specific, and reliable solutions to help SMEs weather the immediate crisis and prepare themselves for the ‘new normal.’ They also deliver services to and represent the interests of SMEs to promote their development.
ITC SheTrades Commonwealth is organizing a five-day virtual gathering of BSOs to facilitate sharing best practices and lessons learned from managing the COVID-19 crisis and reinforcing their capacity to support women-owned businesses and the private sector during and after the pandemic.
SheTrades Commonwealth Sharing for Success – A Virtual Gathering for Business Support Organisations takes place from 23 to 27 November 2020. It will establish and strengthen synergies among BSOs from the Commonwealth institutional ecosystem and improve their operational and managerial capacities to support their SME base.
During the virtual event, participants will, through webinars and discussions, gain deeper insights into:
· Using the SheTrades Commonwealth Crisis Management Toolkit for women-owned businesses;
· Developing an Agile Strategy for BSOs;
· Assisting small firms with seizing opportunities and overcoming barriers in e-commerce;
· Improving BSOs’ risk management;
· Strategies for fundraising and supporting SMEs with access to finance.
The International Trade Centre and the SheTrades Commonwealth project invites business support organizations from all Commonwealth countries to register for the one-week event here.
For detailed information on the event’s agenda, click here.