Emerging Trends | ICT4SDG | SMEs/Entrepreneurship
March 16, 2018

Ready for take-off! ITU launches new pilot project for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises.

By ITU News

It is estimated that Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) make up more than 95% of all businesses worldwide. These SMEs account for 60-70% of gross domestic product (GDP) globally and are a key driver for information and communication technology (ICT) industry growth and socio-economic development throughout the world.

ITU is committed to fostering global SME success and leveraging the expertise of SMEs, especially from emerging markets, to contribute to the work of the Union.

Every year at ITU Telecom World, ITU helps to scale the success of SMEs by giving them a platform for visibility and networking opportunities.

And our newest pilot project, launched by ITU’s Standardization (ITU-T) and Development (ITU-D) Sectors, aims to further fuel SME success by increasing their participation in select ITU Study Groups. This initiative aims to strengthen the technical knowledge of SMEs, with special attention to those from developing countries, and to offer tangible benefits for participating SMEs.

Enhancing SME success through their participation in ITU Study Groups: A pilot project

Currently, 41 SMEs are either ITU Associates or Sector Members. In a recent survey, 100% of ITU’s SME membership noted that being an ITU associate or member increased their company’s reputation; 92% of respondents said that ITU membership provided increased opportunities for establishing partnerships; 83% listed increased opportunities for networking; and 75% said ITU membership gave them a competitive advantage over non-members.


Following a proposal from Argentina at Council 2017, ITU launched this SME pilot project for interested ITU-T and ITU-D Study Groups, where nationally approved SMEs may participate in the meetings of the participating Study Groups.

In ITU-T, the following Study Groups have already begun to implement the pilot project:

Currently 5 SMEs have been approved by the relevant administrations to participate in ITU-T meetings under the pilot, with a further 7 currently in the admission process.

The two ITU-D Study Groups will also participate following Council meetings in April 2018:

Through these Study Groups, Member States, Sector Members,  Associates and Academia can share experiences, present ideas, exchange views, and achieve consensus on appropriate strategies to address ICT development priorities.

To help strengthen collaboration with SMEs, ITU signed an MOU with CABASE, an association for SMEs in Argentina.

“CABASE is mindful of the important role of the ITU in overseeing the development of new ICT technologies and services, with a key focus on security and standardization,” — Ariel Graizer, President and CEO of CABASE

“The SMEs involved in CABASE, particularly in the new developing Internet of Things (IoT) sector, have expressed concerns about the necessity for adequate standards that will support the implementation process of IoT solutions in Latin America,” continued Mr. Grazier.

“The work of ITU-T Focus Group on Data Processing and Management (FGDPM) group is a case in point, and CABASE is part of this initiative. In the case of smart cities, city authorities will feel more secure in contracting IoT solutions from SME IoT innovators if they comply with standards of a worldwide ICT authority such as the ITU” he said.

In addition, ITU and WITSA, a global ICT association, signed an MOU to join forces to further encourage SME contributions to the work of ITU. More on that soon, in an upcoming guest article from WITSA.

ITU Telecom World SME Programme

At ITU Telecom World, the United Nations’ leading tech event, ITU supports tech SMEs from around the world looking to take their solutions or products to the next level by providing a platform for visibility, investment and networking potential.

The ITU Telecom World SME Programme focuses on helping high-growth SMEs to expand their ICT-specific products or servicesHelping Developing Countries to Establish a National Standardization Secretariat or ICT-dependent business models. As part of our efforts to help tech SMEs scale up their business activities and reach maximum global impact, ITU offers coaching, mentoring, investor-matchmaking along with the ITU Telecom SME Awards.

After winning ITU Telecom Awards, several tech SMEs have gone on to expand both in domestic and international markets. Brck, the winner of the 2016 ITU Telecom World Global SME Award – the top award for the most promising innovative solution for an SME – has gone on to win numerous international accolades for their tech solution delivering portable electricity and wireless connectivity.

Last year’s Global SME Award Winner, Modalku, a peer-to-peer funding solution has helped expand financial inclusion in Indonesia and Singapore.

RELATED: Homegrown solutions for Africa’s digital future

The benefits for SMEs who participate in ITU Telecom World are numerous and include valuable international exposure, ability to connect to curated audience of buyers and investors, workshops and masterclasses, peer networking, structured matchmaking, and much more.

For more information about our work with SMEs, visit www.itu.int/sme

If your SME is interested in participating in the upcoming Telecom World visit our website at https://telecomworld.itu.int or email participate.telecom@itu.int.

 If your SME would like to get involved in the work of Study Groups in the new ITU Pilot Project please email us:
For ITU-T study groups: ITU-Tmembership@itu.int
For ITU-D study groups: MembershipITUD@itu.int

Please note that in order to participate, SMEs must be approved by their relevant government Administrations, according to the national definitions of SMEs.

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ITU is the United Nations' specialized agency for information and communication technology. Any opinions expressed and statistics presented by third parties do not necessarily reflect the views of ITU.

Ready for take-off! ITU launches new pilot project for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises.

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