Dhaka, Bangladesh
June 29, 2021

We-Fi Scales Up Capacity Building for Women-owned SMEs to increase Inclusiveness in Corporate Supply Chain in Bangladesh

Media Inquiries: ealagaretnam@weconnectinternational.org Eroshan Alagaretnam, Regional Director- South Asia, WEConnect International

DHAKA, BANGLADESH, JUNE 29, 2021—A capacity building program was launched today to enhance women entrepreneurs’ ability to do business with large buyers. The program is funded by World Bank’s Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi)- Bangladesh project to support Women-owned Small and Medium Enterprises (WSMEs) advancing in profitable supply chain. WEConnect International and North South University will implement this multi-pronged capacity building program.

The virtual ceremony brought together key stakeholders to present the initiative’s overarching goal – enabling WSMEs to connect and do business with local and multinational corporations committed to expanding inclusive sourcing throughout their value chains. The overall program is named as Corporate Connect. Specifically, the Capacity Building training aims to inform and educate the WSMEs about potential opportunities, train them for capacity development and subsequently connect them to corporations for business generation.

“Economic participation and representation of women businesses in the corporate supply chain will not only benefit large companies through inclusive growth but will also enhance women entrepreneur’s ability to provide quality services” said Hosna Ferdous Sumi, Private Sector Specialist, Word Bank.

The capacity building program will include a 20-hour Advanced Training Program, a pitch training and finally support to establish linkages between WSMEs and buyers through business matchmaking events. Corporate representatives will also take part as resource persons in the training program.

“I am confident that we will succeed in making the connections that benefit both buyers and women suppliers,” said Elizabeth A. Vazquez, CEO and Co-Founder of WEConnect International. “We will work closely with North South University to share business intelligence and training to those WSMEs seeking both networking opportunities with procurement departments and insights into how to navigate the complexities of corporate value chains. It is a win-win for all.”

North South University will bring its decades of academic and practical experience to the project through an in-depth supplier readiness training program for WSMEs seeking to deepen their skills, enhance their networking opportunities with procurement departments, and grow their insights into how to navigate the complexities of corporate value chains.

“North South University is excited to be an implementation partner in the Corporate Connect program for women business owners,” said Dr. Atiqul Islam, Vice-Chancellor, North South University. “We look forward to helping women entrepreneurs develop the skills necessary to compete for new business on a global scale.’

Over the next three years, Corporate Connect aims to train over 700 women to be supplier-ready and to work with at least 40 large companies to enhance their supplier diversity efforts. Furthermore, in collaboration with the Small-and-Medium Enterprise Foundation (SMEF) Bangladesh, the project is developing a national supplier database to facilitate business connections between WSMEs and corporations.

In the last decade, women have made tremendous strides in Bangladesh by stepping out of the home and participating in the economy. Yet out of the almost 8 million businesses in Bangladesh, 99.93% of which are MSMEs, only a mere 7.2% of those are women-owned and operated (ADB 2016). With Bangladesh’s GDP expected to grow by 6.8% in 2021 and 7.2% in 2022, enabling more women entrepreneurs to access market opportunities will provide the opportunities necessary to accelerate economic growth despite the barriers that have grown more daunting during the pandemic.

For further information related to the project and to enroll in the training programs, please contact at bangladeshweconnect@weconnectinternational.org

About the World Bank

The World Bank Group is a unique global partnership comprising five institutions working for sustainable solutions that reduce poverty and build shared prosperity in developing countries. The World Bank Group works with 189 member countries and is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries. For more information, visit www.worldbank.org

About We-Fi

The Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) is a collaborative partnership among 14 governments (Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Republic of Korea, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States), six multilateral development banks and other public and private stakeholders. Housed in the World Bank Group, We-Fi seeks to unlock billions of dollars in financing to tackle the full range of barriers facing women entrepreneurs—increasing access to finance, markets, technology, and mentoring, while strengthening policy and legal and regulatory frameworks. For more information, visit www.we-fi.org.

About WEConnect International

WEConnect International is a member-led, global non-profit that brings motivated, large corporate, multilateral and government buyers together with qualified women-owned suppliers around the world. It works with over 120 multinational buyers, with over $1 trillion in annual purchasing power combined, that have committed to sourcing more products and services from women-owned businesses based in over 120 countries. WEConnect International identifies, educates, registers and certifies women’s business enterprises based outside of the U.S. that are at least 51% owned, managed and controlled by one or more women. For more information, visit www.WEConnectInternational.org.

About NSU

North South University, established in 1992, is the first private university and the largest private university in Bangladesh which is rapidly rising in QS ranking and employability reputation.  North South University is recognized as one of the top 100 Asian universities in 2020 according to QS Asia ranking 2020. visit www.northsouth.edu