The theory of microtrade was first developed in 2008 by Professor Y.S. Lee with support from the University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law and presented at the law and development panel of the Society for International Economic Law (SIEL) inaugural conference held in Geneva, Switzerland (July, 2008). Subsequently, some of the world's leading universities such as Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and Seoul National University have invited Professor Lee to speak on microtrade. The first academic article on microtrade has been published in the Law and Development Review. (Y.S. Lee, "Theoretical Basis and Regulatory Framework for Microtrade: Combining Volunteerism with International Trade towards Poverty Elimination", The Law and Development Review, Vol. 2, No.1, pp. 367-399) Microtrade was discussed again at the inaugural conference of the Law and Development Institute held in Sydney, Australia (October 2010) and also covered by international media, such as Sky News, Australia (13 October 2010).
Elements of microtrade have also been discussed and put into practice by others. For example, some non-profit organizations, such as Oxfam, have been selling products from developing countries at their stores in developed countries. Alvin Toffler also mentioned that the development of internet will make it possible for "poor people in tiny villages" to locate markets for their products of small amounts and that when one puts together "the power of micro-finance and the power of micro-trade, we can transform many rural peasant economies and radically increase the wealth that they are capable of creating for themselves." (USA Today, January 28, 2000) Although neither fully addresses all the other essential elements of microtrade, including necessity of online database on a global scale, logistical issues including shipping, international and domestic legal issues, necessity for an international entity administering microtrade, and desirability of focused assistance from the developed world, they affirm the feasibility of microtrade as a theory and a practice to alleviate the most extreme forms of poverty.