October 20, 2020

Opening Remarks to the ED-CSO Roundtable

ONLINE, October 20, 2020 — At the World Bank Annual Meetings on October 19th, Elizabeth A. Vazquez, CEO and Co-Founder of WEConnect International offered the following opening remarks:

To my esteemed CSO Colleagues who are gathered today virtually here in Washington, DC and around the globe, Executive Directors, Alternates, Senior Advisors and Advisors from the World Bank Board, and my Co-Moderator, Dr. Merza Hasan, Dean of the Board, I am honored to serve with you today at this important annual event.

My name is Elizabeth A. Vazquez, Co-Founder and CEO of WEConnect International. WEConnect International, a global network that connects women-owned businesses to qualified buyers around the world. Our mission is simple: WEConnect International helps drive money into the hands of women business owners by enabling them to compete in the global marketplace. We envision a world in which women have the same opportunities as men to design and implement business solutions that create wealth and sustainable prosperity in their communities in more than 125 countries worldwide.

With us today at the ED-CSO Roundtable are more than 303 registered participants from every corner of the globe.

Earlier this month, I reach out to the CSO Forum participants to find out the issues that were of top priority to them.

They identified:

  • Sustainable and Resilient Recovery from COVID-19
  • Governance, Sustainability and Safeguards
  • And Inclusion of Marginalized Communities

These are important issues for WEConnect International and for many of the CSOs participating in the roundtable today.

With COVID-19, so many of us have spent the past few months hunkered down working from home, coping with slowing economies and closed schools and generally adjusting to the new normal. Now is the time for international leaders to step up for transformational change to rebuild global business for good. Recovery efforts from the pandemic provide a potential opportunity for us all.

At WEConnect International, we know that companies and governments proactively investing in supplier diversity and inclusion will reap major dividends as we seek to recover from COVID-19 and systemic inequality. Women-owned businesses are one of the most significant drivers of innovation and job growth in both developed and emerging markets.

And yet, the reality is that today women only account for about 1 percent of the global spend on products and services by corporations and governments. They are often untapped resources for inclusive growth, which is particularly true for women of color. As countries begin rebuilding from the pandemic, leaders must commit to investing in sustainable recovery for all, particularly in developing countries.