IGF 2023 WS #539 Small digital business challenges in a shifting landscape


Global Digital Governance & Cooperation
Governing Digital Economy

Organizer 1: Mark Datysgeld, 🔒Governance Primer

Speaker 1: Lawrence Olawale-Roberts, Private Sector, African Group
Speaker 2: Jaqueline Pigatto, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 3: Mark Datysgeld, Private Sector, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)


Mark Datysgeld, Private Sector, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Online Moderator

Sávyo Vinícius de Morais, Technical Community, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)


Jaqueline Pigatto, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)


Birds of a Feather - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

A. How have small digital businesses been affected by the “digital and e-commerce turning point” precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic?
B. What are the challenges that have been affecting small digital businesses in the past few years, particularly in relation to finding a market?
C. Which strategies have been employed by this global community that could be adopted to consolidate better business practices that generate positive results?

What will participants gain from attending this session? The Birds of a Feather format is a facilitator of the sort of interaction being proposed by this workshop: the setting of a space for small digital businesses from around the world to be able to bring their experiences to the table, share strategies, and network with each other. While the IGF is attended by several actors belonging to this sector, they rarely have the opportunity of getting together and sharing insights in a space that is dedicated to them.

It is our goal to create an opportunity for this to take place, in an experience that will hopefully allow participants to learn from each other and find more of a footing in the IGF space. Their interventions will serve to substantiate research into this subject, as outline further down in the proposal.



With the diminishing of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the business landscape has been redefined in what the UNCTAD (2021) termed a “digital and e-commerce turning point”. The digital commerce and services sector saw significant increase in profits in recent years (Ernst & Young, 2023), but these results are not distributed in an even manner, tending towards further concentration of customers in the portfolios of larger companies. Emerging technologies such as AI also pose challenges that will affect the operation of businesses with smaller profit margins significantly. This workshop asks the global community of small digital companies: how to overcome the challenges of a shifting landscape and continue generating positive impact?

Small and medium enterprises have increased in total numbers in the past decades, and in some countries are now employing more workers than larger ones, something that has been greatly facilitated by the Internet (Westman et al., 2022). In that sense, these businesses are progressively more responsible for social outcomes, including matters such as sustainability and diversity. However, these companies have traditionally not had the same opportunity as larger ones to carry out discussions in international forums and share experiences. The IGF itself has been home to few sessions on the subject over the past several years.

Expected Outcomes

The outcomes of this session will be compiled with other data sources that are being gathered during 2023 in the similarly titled article “Looking beyond: Small digital business challenges in a shifting landscape” to be published in Brazilian Portuguese and English at the end of the year. Participants will also be invited to continue staying in contact with organizers to share further relevant experiences.

Hybrid Format: The session’s organizers have previously led hybrid sessions, both during the IGF and in other events of a a similar nature, having considerable experience in working within such an environment. The Birds-of-a-Feather format also allows for freer, less structured group interactions, which benefits remote participants greatly. This format allows those online to interact synchronously with the session with the help of the online moderator, without needing to wait for a Q&A session or similar.