May 16, 2024

Standard Chartered and WEConnect International Announce New Partnership to Support Women-Owned Businesses in Emerging Market Supply Chains

  • Launch of dedicated financing facility to support the growth and development of WEConnect International-certified women-owned businesses within Standard Chartered’s emerging markets footprint.
  • Women-owned businesses certified by WEConnect International will benefit from affordable and accessible financing, alongside other non-financial services, allowing them to expand their businesses and compete for large-scale contracts.
  • Standard Chartered’s Women SME customers will now be able to leverage the expertise and network of the WEConnect International network, including the ability to get their business certified as women-owned.
  • Partnership will also offer supply chain finance solutions to support WEConnect International member buyers’ commitments to diversity in their supply chains.

Washington, D.C. – 16 May 2024 – Standard Chartered and WEConnect International are excited to announce a partnership to support supply chain diversity in emerging markets and developing economies.

Through the agreement, the Bank will be launching a dedicated financing facility for certified women-owned businesses within its market footprint, alongside targeted financing solutions for WEConnect International member buyers.

WEConnect International empowers women business owners worldwide with the network and resources needed to compete in new markets. Its community of more than 190 member buyers represent over $4 trillion in annual purchasing power and are seeking to do more business with women-owned suppliers.

Businesses that are at least 51% owned, managed and controlled by one or more women are identified, trained, and certified by WEConnect International. Through the platform, they gain access to a global database of member buyer profiles and contacts, new procurement opportunities, as well as exclusive training and capacity building programs. In 2023, member buyers spent US$8 billion dollars with women-owned businesses based outside of the U.S.

However, access to finance remains a challenge for many of its women SME (WSME) suppliers. With restricted or unreliable access to financing, many struggle to expand their businesses to meet corporate contracting requirements.

The new partnership represents an opportunity to address this gap by offering WSMEs the reliable financing they need to compete for large-scale contracts. Through the agreement, women-owned businesses within Standard Chartered’s footprint markets will be given access to affordable and accessible financing, alongside other non-financial services offered through the bank’s flagship WSME program, SC WIN. This is the first time WEConnect International has been able to provide financing to its women SME community and the organization’s first time working with any bank on a financing facility. Through the agreement, the Bank will also be offering supply chain finance solutions to support WEConnect International member buyers’ commitments to diversity in their supply chains.

As a leading international cross-border bank with a footprint across the world’s most dynamic markets, Standard Chartered is a leader in trade finance, committed to driving sustainable, inclusive growth and prosperity in the places it calls home.

The new partnership supports the Bank’s commitment to significantly scale its lending to women-owned businesses. In 2023, Standard Chartered became the first global signatory of the WE Finance Code, a pioneering initiative – led by the World Bank – to help drive more financing to Women-led SMEs around the world.

Natalie Marko, Head of Social Sustainability, Standard Chartered, said: “We are excited to be joining forces with WEConnect International to help tackle one of the many structural barriers that stand in the way of entrepreneurial women. Social sustainability has always been a priority area for Standard Chartered. This new facility complements and enhances our existing work to lift the economic participation of disadvantaged young women and micro businesses in our markets, by bringing our commercial expertise to bear in support of women-led SMEs around the world.”

Elizabeth A. Vazquez, CEO, and Co-Founder of WEConnect International, said: This partnership marks an exciting chapter for WEConnect International and our global network of women business owners and member buyers. Access to finance is a critical challenge for many women-owned businesses, limiting their ability to compete for large-scale contracts in the global marketplace. This unique partnership with Standard Chartered will provide certified women-owned businesses, especially in developing countries, with the financial resources they need to scale, thrive and grow faster.

For further information, please contact marketingcommunications@weconnectinternational.org.


About WEConnect International

WEConnect International is a global non-profit that connects women-owned businesses to qualified buyers around the world. It helps drive money into the hands of women business owners by enabling them to compete in the global marketplace. WEConnect International connects member buyers to women-owned sellers globally, enhances their capabilities to transact business and instils confidence that sellers meet buyers’ standards for women-owned businesses. Learn more at weconnectinternational.org


About Standard Chartered

Standard Chartered is a leading international banking group, with a presence in 53 of the world’s most dynamic markets and serving clients in a further 64. Its purpose is to drive commerce and prosperity through its unique diversity, and its heritage and values are expressed in its brand promise, here for good.

Social sustainability is a priority area for the Bank, reflecting its long-term commitment to delivering sustainable, inclusive growth and prosperity for the places it calls home.