UN and e-Residency join forces to empower entrepreneurs in the developing world

26.04.2017

The UN has found a way to help entrepreneurs in the developing world benefit from online entrepreneurship and therefore help unlock global growth: Make them e-residents of Estonia.

The northern European nation was the first to declare that internet access is a human right and is now the first to offer e-Residency. It means aspiring entrepreneurs can apply for a secure digital identity issued by the government of Estonia and then use it to establish and manage an EU company online with minimal bureaucracy.

Estonia’s e-Residency programme has joined forces with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) as a founding partner to its groundbreaking new initiative, e-Trade For All. UNCTAD has now gathered global policy makers and leading entrepreneurs in Geneva for e-Commerce Week where they will hear more about the potential of e-Trade For All to help aspiring entrepreneurs in the developing world start their businesses through e-Residency.

Jack Ma, Chairman of the Alibaba Group and founder of China’s largest online retailer, is now a Special Advisor to UNCTAD and will help support e-Trade For All. He predicts that 90% of all business will be online in the next 30 years.

At present, however, a large proportion of the world’s population is unable to benefit from that growth – often just because of where they live. People in developing countries, women and other marginalised groups currently face the greatest challenges accessing e-commerce due to the high barriers of establishing a trusted business and then accessing modern business tools, such as international payment providers. E-Residency Programme Director Kaspar Korjus will today take part in a high level discussion with Jack Ma and others and then help launch e-Trade For All’s new online platform, which will help the scheme grow wider.

The e-Residency programme will then co-host a high level discussion on Thursday with the UNCTAD and the International Trade Centre to identity practical initiatives that will help more small and medium sized enterprises in developing countries benefit from e-commerce. The keynote address will be provided by Dr. Liam Fox, the UK’s Secretary of State for International Trade. One of the first examples of e-Trade For All in action is now underway in Delhi, India where women are being helped to start their online businesses, which includes applying for e-Residency of Estonia. More information about this initiative in India is available on the e-Residency blog.

The G20 has also now recommended that all its members actively support e-Trade For All and its key policy areas. In a speech to the UNCTAD today, e-Residency Programme Director Kaspar Korjus will explain that e-Residency is not just a project for Estonia, but for the world, and is already helping empowering entrepreneurs in 137 countries.

“Small businesses shouldn’t need to wait to integrate themselves into global trade,” says Korjus. “Why not support these entrepreneurs while at the same time helping entire countries overcome infrastructure deficiencies?

“With an a-Residency platform already internationalised and in place, entire regions can immediately be empowered. Businesses, financial companies, governments and organisations in every part of the world can integrate themselves into this platform for the benefit of their own citizens and clients.”

For more information, please contact Adam Rang at e-Residency.