WASHINGTON, DC – As 2020 draws to a close, it’s natural to take the time to assess the year that was. Many of our friends and supporters are coming together to celebrate the holidays with their families in person and online and are looking forward to the New Year and putting the pandemic behind us.
2020 was not an easy year for anyone, but I found constant inspiration in how most of the women business owners in our network were able to pivot to meet the new business needs of a changing economic landscape. Our member buyers also continued to offer their expertise and support to our suppliers as they demonstrated their collective resilience by navigating through it all together towards the new normal.
While we have faced many challenges this year, I am really proud of the WEConnect International team for stepping up to the task of innovating and trying new methods of service delivery in support of the member buyers and women-owned businesses we serve. Embracing technology has been key and we not only found ways to leverage the latest in enterprise video communications, but we also launched a new website and a new global platform to make it easier for buyers and sellers to connect.
WECommunity is now helping women-owned businesses based in more than 100 countries access new markets and connect with qualified buyers with a few clicks. This multifunctional and multilingual global online platform was made possible through the generous support of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and SAP Ariba, along with help from Accenture, ExxonMobil, IBM and Procter & Gamble.
The beauty of this system is that thousands of women business owners will be connected to buyers and sellers previously out of reach, especially in developing countries. WECommunity is also truly global with content in 10 languages: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, Chinese, Japanese, Turkish, Italian and Polish.
As I often say, promoting supplier diversity and inclusion is not only the right thing to do, but it also makes good business sense. Increasingly, women are driving the global economy as business leaders, employees and consumers. And yet, globally women-owned businesses earn less than 1 percent of the money spent on vendors by large corporations and governments.
Neither governments nor corporations can afford to ignore this critical economic driver — women account for more than $20 trillion in spending per year and are involved in more than 80 percent of consumer purchasing decisions worldwide.
In the new year, WEConnect International and our partners are looking forward to expanding our WECommunity network in support of an inclusive economic recovery. Now is the time to work together with urgency to grow women-owned businesses through WECommunity and the supplier diversity and inclusion movement worldwide.
From all us at WEConnect International, we wish you a peaceful, healthy and prosperous New Year.
Elizabeth A. Vazquez
CEO and Co-Founder, WEConnect International