February 2nd marked the launch of a unique in-person training program under the initiative “Corporate Connect: Strengthening Market Access for Women-Owned Businesses”- a technical advisory project implemented by the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group and The Ministry of Commerce of Bangladesh. This inaugural event was targeted to women business owners of micro, small and medium enterprises in Bangladesh to enhance their supply chain linkages to some of the biggest local and multinational corporations sourcing from Bangladesh.
The training program is unique in that it will connect women entrepreneurs to business-to-business opportunities.Usually, the focus is solely on removing barriers to business entrepreneurship, but this program also addresses the demand-side of the equation and helps to form the key connections that can lead to tangible business opportunities.
According to studies conducted by WEConnect International, women-owned businesses earn less than 1 percent of all money spent on vendors by large corporations and governments worldwide. This initiative aims to build better connections between women-owned businesses and corporate buyers, provides capacity building training, and helps promote the business case for sourcing from women in Bangladesh.
Under this training program, which will be held in a local venue, 50 growth-oriented women business owners selected through a rigorous application process will come together to learn strategies and tools essential for growing their businesses to the next level. The skills learned will help the participants position themselves as competitive suppliers for the corporate opportunity. Throughout the training, corporate representatives and other guest experts from large corporations and organizations will be invited to share their insights and engage and inspire the participants.
After completing the rigorous course curriculum (33 hours spread over two months) the first cohort of participants will be invited to a dynamic meet-the-buyer event, where they will pitch their business offering to attentive corporate representatives. The representatives, in turn, will be invited to provide feedback on the pitches and will also share information about what goods and services they typically buy from local suppliers.
This is an initiative of the Bangladesh Investment Climate Fund, funded by the UK Department for International Development, and is focused on export diversification and gender-related activities. In addition to classroom training, up to 100 women-owned businesses have been selected to participate in online training. WEConnect International, in collaboration with local partners, is providing technical support to implement the program in Bangladesh.