Micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) face several challenges that became more pronounced during the pandemic. These include temporary business closures, decline in sales or profits and reduced hours or wages. Digital solutions such as e-commerce platforms provided a pathway to circumvent some of these challenges. However, due to lower digital financial literacy levels, mobile Internet adoption and mobile phone ownership, women-led MSMEs could not leverage these digital solutions to promote the growth of their enterprises during the pandemic.
In response to this challenge, the UNCDF, in partnership with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) implemented the ‘Leveraging Digital Solutions for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Nepal' project from December 2021 until March 2023, part of the UNCDF ‘Leaving No One Behind in the Digital Era’ programme. UNCDF partnered with two e-commerce platforms, Sastodeal and Thulo, and two federations, the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) and the Federation of Nepal Cottage and Small Industries (FNCSI) to build the digital and financial capabilities of more than 4,000 MSMEs in Nepal, including 60 percent women, and onboard 2,000 MSMEs to sell their products on the e-commerce platforms.
This project has provided MSMEs in Nepal with access to digital markets, capacity building, technology, and additional support services (e.g., business registration, photography and product uploading, branding) for all the project beneficiaries.