Corporate Connect: Strengthening Market Access for Women Business Owners is a World Bank Group project implemented by WEConnect International that seeks to generate long-term opportunities for women-owned businesses to connect and conduct business with local and multinational corporations in Bangladesh. This project is one of the first in Bangladesh to bring women-owned businesses and corporations together to assess the potential for market linkages and has great promise given the strong retail and wholesale presence of major corporations in the country.
The began with desk research and qualitative research, including surveys to better understand the challenges and opportunities for gender-inclusive sourcing in Bangladesh. The next phase provided capacity building training to over 150 women entrepreneurs and secured early commitments from corporations to buy more from women-owned businesses. In March 2019, a Forum was organized to discuss the potential for supplier diversity in Bangladesh and to connect corporate buyers to promising, growth-oriented women-owned businesses via networking sessions.
Ongoing efforts center around forming the country’s first Supplier Diversity Advisory Council for companies to exchange best practices and to better understand how working with women suppliers contributes to the bottom line and to increased productivity and innovation. A large supplier diversity conference will be held at the end of 2019 to invite more companies to join the supplier diversity movement, and to provide opportunities for women-owned businesses to access finance and make new business connections.
News and Events
A Supplier Diversity Advisory Committee was launched in Dhaka, Bangladesh on September 12, 2019, as part of the technical advisory project, Corporate Connect: Strengthening Market Access for Women Business Owners, a project by the World Bank Group and implementing partner WEConnect International.
On May 5th, a cohort of over 30 women-owned businesses graduated 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
This event held on March 27th allowed corporate executives to come together and discuss the opportunities for large corporations to source more products and services from women suppliers in a way that is consistent with their business objectives. In attendance were procurement and supply chain professionals from local and multinational corporations sourcing from Bangladesh, women business owners, business associations, NGOs, and high-level government officials from the Ministry of Commerce of Bangladesh, including Mr. Tapan Kanti Ghosh. Additional Secretary (Export), Export Wing, Ministry of Commerce, Bangladesh. The event also marked the graduation of the first cohort of women business owners graduating from a program focused on building their capacity to scale and become successful suppliers.