June 16, 2017


During its annual hallmark International Day event on June 19, 2017, in Las Vegas, WEConnect International will present the results of its study, Growing Women-Owned Businesses in Latin America and the Caribbean, conducted with the support of the Canadian International Development Research Center (IDRC).

“This study complements existing data on growth-oriented women-owned businesses and demonstrates how corporations can move beyond corporate social responsibility towards leveraging their purchasing power to grow underutilized businesses that deliver solutions and create jobs,” says Elizabeth A. Vazquez, CEO and Co-Founder of WEConnect International.

From May 2016 to May 2017, WEConnect International collected data from 300 women-owned businesses in Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, and Jamaica; conducted buyer research with 10 multinational corporations; convened four major roundtables engaging more than 100 public and private sector policy makers to build public private partnerships and solicit commitments to buying more from women; hosted seven stakeholder panel events engaging more than 650 stakeholders in the seven countries to present and discuss the research findings; and leveraged a number of high profile events such as the UN High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment both globally and in the region to build awareness of the project and the potential for impact over time.

As a result of the project, public and private sector stakeholders in Argentina and Panama have expressed interests in working with WEConnect International members to build out activities that support women entrepreneurs’ ability to access their supply chains.  Multinational corporations, which participated in the project, have broadened their engagement across the region, developed additional mentorship and capacity building programs that address the specific needs identified in the research, and have leveraged the findings to engage both internal and external stakeholders in other regions to further support sourcing from women-owned businesses.

To continue to move the agenda forward, WEConnect International recommends the development of additional tools and engagement efforts in other regions around the world to build a global data set and heighten awareness of the positive impact that supplier diversity and inclusion can have on the Sustainable Development Goals.  Through data collection, education and collective action, buyers, suppliers, and business support organizations have the ability to move billions of dollars into the hands of women and track the direct impact that it has on their communities.

Read the report summary.

About IDRC (www.idrc.ca)  IDRC supports research projects in developing countries to promote growth and development for those most vulnerable. IDRC is a key part of Canada’s foreign policy efforts, including the newly announced feminist international assistance policy aimed at the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment. Support to WEConnect is well aligned with this new feminist policy’s action areas, including women’s empowerment, inclusive growth, inclusive governance, and a strong commitment to engage with the private sector.

WEConnect International (www.WEConnectInternational.org) helps women-owned businesses succeed in global value chains. It 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, and then connects them with qualified buyers.  Member buyers represent over $1 trillion in annual purchasing power.