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 project began with surveys and focus group discussions 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 2019, the project expanded to engage additional senior corporate representatives and connect them to women-owned businesses under the World Bank’s Bangladesh Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) and as part of a global partnership between IFC and WEConnect International.
In February 2020, The World Bank Group and the Ministry of Commerce of Bangladesh, in collaboration with WEConnect International, hosted the 2020 Conference & Business Fair to bring together women business owners, corporate buyers, and association partners to champion the movement for supplier diversity. The more than 180 guests at the event participated in a senior corporate roundtable, a business fair showcasing women-owned goods and services, a business pitch competition, and a meet-the-buyer session.
Ongoing efforts center around the recruitment of local and multinational corporations in Bangladesh to join the supplier diversity movement, and women business owners in Bangladesh to join our network of entrepreneurs and corporate buyers.
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.