September 19, 2019


DHAKA, BANGLADESH, September 12, 2019 —  As part of its technical advisory project, Corporate Connect: Strengthening Market Access for Women Business Owners, the World Bank Group and implementing partner WEConnect International launched a Supplier Diversity Advisory Committee. Committee members were eager to begin contributing to future progress, given the growth trajectory of Bangladesh’s economy and its impressive performance in social development.

The committee aims to bring together early movers in supplier diversity and inclusion (SD&I) to exchange ideas on how to increase business connectivity between women-owned businesses and member buyers, to recruit new corporations to join the supplier diversity movement, and to select SD&I goals that align with their corporate structure and objectives. With accountability as a key piece of implementation, the committee will meet regularly to report progress on early-stage SD&I goals established as part of the launch.

During its inaugural meeting, the committee dug into the challenges and merits of increasing supplier diversity in their own organizations to help determine the best way to move forward. Suggestions included plans to increase mentorship and capacity development opportunities for women business owners and to develop a central database to facilitate a more dynamic matchmaking process between corporations and women business owners. Advisory members also encouraged these entrepreneurs to be more proactive in their efforts to contact procurement departments to find out about opportunities.

“We are trying to connect to some women entrepreneurs…and…we need a central database of women entrepreneurs,” said Md. Nazmul Islam Pavel, Head of Outsourcing, Apex Footwear Limited.

Senior leaders of Bangladesh-based corporations gave close attention to the business case for investing in women business owners and learned about early achievements of the Corporate Connect project, which include the establishment of 373 buyer-supplier connections. 

Corporate Connect, a pilot initiative, is now being expanded under a new project that is part of the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi), which aims to improve the ecosystem for small- and medium-sized women entrepreneurs. 

Next steps of the project included business pitch training for women-owned businesses in Bangladesh and a Supplier Diversity Conference that was co-hosted by the Ministry of Commerce in December 2019.

If your organization sources goods or services from Bangladesh and is interested in joining these companies on the journey to supplier diversity, please email Nicolas Picard at npicard@weconnectinternational.org.