Supporting small businesses for big economic impact News

28 June, 2021

Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) are critical to economic growth and job creation. They play an increasingly important role in supporting a more resilient and inclusive post-COVID19 recovery. Despite their centrality to building prosperity and creating better economic opportunities, MSMEs are frequently left on the margins of international and regional trade. They face a set on unique challenges, including higher transaction and access costs to export markets due to regulatory practices, customs procedures, international standards, and regulations.

On this MSME Day 2021, we are delighted to be advancing an agenda that sits at the very core of building stronger local markets and creating better global opportunities.

Cowater International has been working closely with a range of stakeholders to support MSMEs’ access to information and resources to assist them in fully reaping the benefits of participating in international trade. In partnership with the World Trade Organization (WTO), The Permanent Missions of Mexico and Uruguay to the WTO, Cowater International has supported policy and research efforts to better understand the challenges facing MSMEs around the world, and particularly in low-income contexts.

The FCDO funded Trade and Advocacy Fund 2+ (TAF2+) is engaging a number of WTO members to develop a MSME web platform that will serve as an aggregator of curated resources, including training materials, studies, policy documents, statistics, databases, in English, French and Spanish. The web platform will become operational in the coming months.

“Recognizing that international trade presents an opportunity for MSMEs’ economic growth, this platform is aimed at providing MSMEs with tools and resources that would allow them to enhance competencies needed to participate in international markets ”, said Alicia Goujon, Diplomat, Permanent Mission of Mexico to the WTO

Through the Canadian Trade and Investment Facility for Development (CTIF), and the Expert Deployment Mechanism for Trade and Development (EDM) – funded by Global Affairs Canada – Cowater International is supporting access to finance and new markets for MSMEs in the Asia-Pacific region and Latin America.

In Bhutan, the women-led Ser Bhum Brewery is receiving support in enhancing its environmental, health and safety, and management standards to increase production capacity and diversify its export markets. In Bangladesh, in partnership with Kisserup International Trade Roots, Cowater International is supporting another women-led SME, Leatherina Pvt Ltd., a boutique producer of fine leather goods, to expand its access to international markets using e-commerce platforms.

With funding from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Cowater International has supported women-led MSMEs in the agricultural and tourism sector in Vietnam to become more resilient in addressing the economic impact of COVID-19. Working with ethnic minority communities in the Son La and Lao Cai provinces, our Vietnam GREAT project has provided solutions to minimize the impact of the pandemic on communities and small rural enterprises.

In the agricultural sector, GREAT has been providing technical expertise in bamboo and cinnamon production to over 1000 small farmers via videoconferencing solutions. We are working with Thinh An Company to support passionfruit growers to diversify their income by producing bananas, melons and pumpkins to reduce reliance on a single crop and mitigate the impact of market disruptions on the price of agricultural goods.

In the tourism sector, GREAT has pioneered a range of innovative ideas, including the creation of a business alliance in Moc Chau to promote domestic tourism packages. A tourism club was created in Bac Ha region, in north-west Vietnam, to promote the destination during the plum and pear blossom season. These efforts are targeting domestic travellers following the collapse of the international tourism industry during the pandemic.

Finally, Cowater International is providing capacity building and policy advice in supporting MSMEs to fully benefit from international trade. In Colombia’s Huila Department, our Expert Deployment Mechanism for Trade and Development is training agricultural producer associations and MSMEs on opportunities to increase agricultural exports to the Canadian market and comply with the provisions of the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement.

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