Working Group on
Connectivity for MSMEs

How can we make digital connectivity work for MSMEs?

The Working Group on Connectivity for MSMEs seeks to define the opportunity and challenges of getting more micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in low and middle income countries (LMICs) online and engaging in online trade. Co-chaired by ITC and the GSMA, core elements of the research will be drawn from a major study underway led by the GSMA on the digital and financial inclusion of female micro-entrepreneurs in Africa and Asia, a study supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.

Setting the Stage

Connecting MSMEs is critical to sustainable and inclusive global development.

Digital connectivity matters and its importance has accelerated since COVID-19. The good news in 2021 was that the number of digitally connected individuals rose sharply. However, there is an urgent challenge to connect the unconnected, nearly all in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs).

A priority should be MSMEs –key drivers of the economy and providers of employment –most of whom do not fully leverage digital connectivity to run their businesses and engage in trade. Increasing access and capability to use digital channels and tools could be one of the most powerful mechanisms to respond to the looming economic downturn, and to boost the resilience of small businesses in LMICs. Greater adoption of digital technology and participation of MSMEs in digital trade brings important economic benefits, drives the demand for digital capacity and in turn improves the business case for further investments in infrastructure: a virtuous cycle that can accelerate the expansion and improvement of connectivity. 

The Broadband Commission’s Advocacy Target #6 emphasizes the need to get MSMEs connected and performing online; the target aims to reducing the number who are unconnected by 50% before 2025.

The Working Group Model

Composition and Activities

Focus Area



Ms. Pamela Coke-Hamilton
Executive Director of ITC

Mr. Mats Granryd
Director General of GSMA

Broadband Advocacy Targets