May 05, 2019

A graduation ceremony and buyer-supplier meeting took place today as part of a technical advisory project titled “Corporate Connect: Strengthening Market Access for Women-Owned Businesses”. The project is implemented by the International Finance Corporation Group (IFC) and The Ministry of Commerce in Bangladesh. WEConnect International is the implementing partner of the program.

One goal of the event was to graduate a cohort of over 30 women-owned businesses from a training program focused on building their capacity to scale their businesses and become successful suppliers. This is the second cohort of business owners graduating from the program, joining 20 others who completed their training in March.

Another part of the event introduced the training graduates to potential corporate buyers: these are 6 representatives from different local corporations interested to diversify their supply chains by procuring goods and services from women. The corporate representatives explained their procurement process and business opportunities, then listened to elevator pitches from the women business owners, who work in IT services, jute goods, leather items, fashion retail, manufacturing, and other sectors

This unique program connects women business owners in Bangladesh to procurement connections they might not otherwise make and prompts them to think about the many opportunities to be had in the Business-to-Business arena,” says IFC Private Sector Specialist Hosna Ferdous Sumi.

Funded by the UK Department for International Development, the project is focused on export diversification and gender-related activities. The project builds better connections between women-owned businesses and corporate buyers, provides capacity building training, and helps to promote the business case for sourcing from women in Bangladesh. The project is implemented by WEConnect International and is supported by local consultants -LightCastle Partners and A4 Consultants.

Corporate Connect was launched in January 2018. Since then, over 50 women business owners have benefited from tailored supplier development training, and up to 100 business owners will complete online training in the months to come. During the in-person training, over a dozen corporate representatives from a range of industries contributed their time to build the technical capacity of the participants. Several corporations, including Multimode Group, DBL Group, PRAN-RFL Group, Richmond Hotels & Suites, Gemcon Group, BRAC Bank, Berger Paints Ltd, Coca-Cola Bangladesh, and Knit Asia Ltd. Group have signed pledge letters with IFC and WEConnect International, signaling their intent to source more from women-owned businesses. 

About WEConnect International

WEConnect International helps women-owned businesses succeed in global value chains. It identifies, educates, 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.  WEConnect International members represent over US$1 trillion in annual purchasing power and a commitment to supplier development and inclusive sourcing. The result is a network of corporate buyers working with women business owners based in over 100 countries that are learning, collaborating and winning new business.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Emily Coccia, WEConnect International Vice President of Development

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