Globally, women-owned businesses face significant barriers to winning corporate and government contracts to provide goods and services. A recent Public-Private Partnership introduced cutting-edge technology that is transforming the ability of WEConnect International and its partners to mitigate these barriers by providing greater capacity, visibility, and access for women-owned businesses on a global scale.
Women business owners encounter many obstacles to growing their businesses, including a lack of access to business opportunities and financial resources, as well as social and cultural constraints. At the same time, large buyers often struggle to find qualified gender-diverse suppliers—the very women-owned businesses that want to sell their goods and services in global supply chains.
As a result, while women represent 50% of the global population, and women entrepreneurs worldwide participate in the ownership of nearly 33% of all privately-owned firms in the formal economy, according to research conducted by WEConnect International, women-owned businesses globally earn less than 1% of the money spent on products and services by large corporations and governments.
As part of a three-year partnership with USAID and private sector partners—SAP, Accenture, ExxonMobil, IBM, and Procter & Gamble—WEConnect International introduced a marketplace platform for buyers and suppliers to interact, and combined it with certification, education and training, to increase the capacity of both women-owned businesses and buyers to understand and benefit from new business opportunities.
The marketplace platform, called WECommunity, uses highly secure and cutting-edge IT to create market linkages between buyers and sellers. Available in 10 languages, WECommunity includes full profiles of thousands of Registered and Certified women-owned suppliers based in over 140 countries. It is used by WEConnect International’s member buyers and women-owned suppliers to discover and connect to one another, share business opportunities, and contract with each other.
WEConnect International also provides educational forums and best practice examples for corporate member buyers, governments, and other organizations to enhance their international supplier diversity and inclusion initiatives.
At the same time, WEConnect International provides virtual training in the state-of-the-art WEConnect Academy learning platform to build the capacity of women-owned businesses—in areas such as strategic planning, marketing and sales, human resources, and accounting—to enable them to compete for new business opportunities.
The number of member buyers (currently over 180) in the WEConnect International network doubled during the Public Private Partnership, while the number of women-owned businesses Registered or Certified with WEConnect International (currently over 17,000) increased sharply. This helped drive key positive impacts:
While the data demonstrates our collaborative efforts have been very successful to date, this is just the beginning. Women continue to be invisible as suppliers in global value chains and there is an urgent need for women-owned businesses to contribute to and benefit from corporate and government contract opportunities globally. WEConnect International is dedicated to working with local and global partners to move the needle and achieve better results at scale with urgency. This is a call to action for impact through purchasing power and we invite you to join us!