DHAKA, BANGLADESH, February 9, 2020 – Women-owned businesses in Bangladesh need better access to markets and corporate value chains to boost the country’s inclusive growth and to create more jobs, the World Bank Group said Sunday at the Corporate Connect 2020 Conference & Business Fair.
Built on the success of a just completed pilot project, the World Bank Group together with WEConnect International today launched a project that will help 1,200 women-owned businesses connect with potential large local and multinational member buyers. It will help enterprises access value chains and expand their business. The project is supported by the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi).
The earlier pilot project provided capacity building training to more than 150 women entrepreneurs and facilitated linkages with large corporations through various business networking opportunities and nearly 90 percent of the beneficiaries reported improvements in their businesses. The project also led to the creation of the country’s first Supplier Diversity Advisory Committee.
“In Bangladesh, only 5 percent of formal micro, small and medium-sized companies are owned by women,” said Wendy Werner, IFC Country Manager for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal. “As an investor in emerging markets, IFC strongly believes that to enable companies and economies to grow, we must reduce the gaps between women and men in the private sector.”
“The development of supply chain strategies is critical to the success of businesses, but women owned firms are often overlooked as key participants in those chains,” said Caren Grown, Senior Director, Gender, World Bank Group. “Over the next three years, the project will help create a database of Bangladeshi women entrepreneurs in order to increase their participation in corporate value chains. The more that can be done to connect women-owned businesses with member buyers, the greater will be the benefit to both women entrepreneurs and to Bangladesh.”
The conference was attended by policymakers and business leaders where best practices to diversify value chains were discussed. A business fair was also organized for women entrepreneurs to build networks and access corporate procurement opportunities.
“The conference provides a platform for the government, private sector and institutional partners to support women entrepreneurs to succeed in value chains and make their mark on the local and global economy,” said Tipu Munshi, Honorable Minister of Commerce, Government of Bangladesh, who was present as the chief guest. “We hope this will encourage more companies to buy from women-owned businesses that provide innovative homegrown products and services.”
Globally, women-owned small and medium businesses earn less than one percent of the money spent by large corporations and governments on suppliers. Connecting women entrepreneurs to member buyers helps to diversify value chains while delivering equitable, broad-based economic growth.
“WEConnect International is excited to bring its expertise in gender-inclusive sourcing to help buyers gain a competitive edge and women-owned businesses reach a broader market with their goods and services,” said Elizabeth A. Vazquez, CEO and Co-Founder of WEConnect International. “We call on other buyers and women business owners to join the movement for supplier diversity as we work to achieve gender equality.”
The World Bank Group and the Ministry of Commerce, Government of Bangladesh in collaboration with WEConnect International, with the support of We-Fi organized the conference and the business fair.
About World Bank Group
The World Bank Group plays a key role in the global effort to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. It consists of five institutions: The World Bank, including the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA); the International Finance Corporation (IFC); the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA); and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Working together in more than 100 countries, these institutions provide financing, advice and other solutions that enable countries to address the most urgent challenges of development. For more information, please visit www.worldbank.org, www.miga.org, and www.ifc.org.
The Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) is a collaborative partnership among fourteen governments and eight multilateral development banks. Housed in the World Bank Group, We-Fi seeks to unlock billions of dollars in financing to tackle the full range of barriers facing women entrepreneurs—increasing access to finance, markets, technology and mentoring, while strengthening policy, and legal and regulatory frameworks. As one of the We-Fi implementing partners, IFC supports private sector clients with investments and advisory services to expand financial services and market access for women-owned/led firms, as well as increasing the capacity of women entrepreneurs to run high-growth businesses. For more information, visit www.we-fi.org.
About WEConnect International
WEConnect International helps women-owned businesses succeed in global value chains. It identifies, educates, registers and certifies women’s business enterprises based outside of the U.S. that are at least 51% owned, managed, and controlled by one or more women, and then connects them with qualified member buyers. Member buyers represent more than US$1 trillion in annual purchasing power.