For developing and least developed countries in Commonwealth, SMEs represent an opportunity of wider economic development and poverty alleviation. Linking these SMEs to each other as well as to the SMEs in the developed members of the Commonwealth can provide huge opportunities to export and invest for all member states.
To actualize the existing potential of trade and investments and link the Commonwealth countries, which share the same language and similar legal institutions, the Intra-Commonwealth SME Association was launched by the Commonwealth Secretariat in June 2016 in New Delhi, India. It was established as “India-Commonwealth SMEs Association”; however, to give the association a global face, it was eventually transformed into Intra-commonwealth SMEs Association (ICSA).

Patricia Scotland, Secretary General of the Commonwealth Secretariat, Launching the ICSA B2B Platform
Patricia Scotland, Secretary General of the Commonwealth Secretariat, Launching the ICSA B2B Platform

The main objective of the Association was to:

  • provide a sustainable platform for exporters and importers to regularly meet;
  • Build awareness of existing global standards as well as to encourage regional and extra regional investments in areas where the countries have competitiveness but lacks capacity.

The initiative of the establishing the ICSA was spearheaded by the Trade Competitiveness Section of the Commonwealth Secretariat.

ALLPI was represented in the Advisory Board Member of ICSA by its Executive Director, Prof. M. Mwinyihija. The Advisory Board had come up with a recommendation to build an ICSA B2B portal that is geared to facilitate the linkages of Commonwealth SMEs. In the meantime, it had been agreed to twin ALLPI Portal with the ICSA Portal.

The Commonwealth Secretariat decided to hold the Intra Commonwealth SMEs Association Advisory Board Meeting as a side event of the Commonwealth Games 2018 in Gold Cost Australia.

During the Event, ALLPI was represented by its Executive Director Prof. M. Mwinyihija and its IT Expert Mr. Awlachew Sintie.

The objective of the Mission was to launch the ICSA B2B Portal and to create strong relationship with the Commonwealth countries.

Trade 2018 – the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Trade and Investment Program – provided the perfect opportunity for government and business leaders to build relationships, strengthen trade and investment ties, and explore opportunities across the Commonwealth.

ALLPI with respect to the development, twining, and launching of the ICSA B2B Portal was represented at different session of the event. The Event launched two initiatives to boost intra-Commonwealth trade and investment:- The launching of the ICSA B2B Portal ( and the Commonwealth Alliance for Young Entrepreneurs (CAYE) in Asia-Pacific countries.

Business leaders from Asia and the Pacific attended the launch and heard how strengthened intra-Commonwealth trade and investment cooperation had the potential to support and sustain the recovery in global trade growth.

“The launch of these associations is taking place at an auspicious time in the face of profound changes to the global trade landscape where the world economy continues to experience an un precedented slowdown and new challenges are confronting small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and the traditional way of doing business.” Said Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland, as she opened the event.

“We have 300,000 new emerging youth. These people did not have a platform for innovation and the commonwealth has come out strongly to support us to develop a regional Design Studio where this youth could come in and develop their products, so they could go into the global markets. What it means is now Africa is preparing itself to become productive and competitive in the same time.” Said Prof. Mwinyihija, Executive Director of ALLPI.

In general, the mission was successful in terms of increasing the visibility of ALLPI. The Pacific and Asian countries have shown much interest for possible collaboration with ALLPI.

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Africa Leather and Leather Products Institute (ALLPI)
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