A high-level Forum was hosted in Dhaka, Bangladesh today to discuss the business opportunity of linking women-owned businesses to local corporate value chains. The Forum is part of a technical advisory project titled “Corporate Connect: Strengthening Market Access for Women-Owned Businesses” and is implemented by the International Finance Corporation Group (IFC) and The Ministry of Commerce in Bangladesh. WEConnect International is the implementing partner of the program.
Following the program’s inaugural Forum in January, the event successfully brought together 5 procurement and supply chain professionals from local and multinational corporations sourcing from Bangladesh, women business owners, business associations, NGOs, and high-level government officials from the Ministry of Commerce of Bangladesh, including Mr. Tapan Kanti Ghosh. Additional Secretary (Export), Export Wing, Ministry of Commerce, Bangladesh.
“The event helped strengthen the business case for supplier diversity in Bangladesh,” says IFC Private Sector Specialist Hosna Ferdous Sumi. “Corporate executives were able to come together and think through the opportunities for large corporations to source more products and services from women suppliers in a way that is consistent with their business objectives and corporate responsibility goals.”
Funded by the UK Department for International Development, the project is focused on export diversification and gender-related activities. The project builds better connections between women-owned businesses and corporate buyers, provides capacity building training, and helps to promote the business case for sourcing from women in Bangladesh. The project is implemented by WEConnect International and is supported by local consultants -LightCastle Partners and A4 Consultants.
“This is a unique opportunity in Bangladesh to connect growth-oriented women business owners who are hungry to compete for new business with forward thinking corporations investing in the country’s economic prosperity,” says WEConnect International CEO & Co-Founder Elizabeth A. Vazquez.
Corporate Connect was launched in January 2018. Since then, the project has offered tailored supplier development training to growth-oriented women entrepreneurs: over 100 women have participated in online training, and 23 have completed in-person training, with 27 more to be trained in the coming months. During the in-person training, eight corporate representatives from a range of industries contributed their time to build the technical capacity of the participants. Corporations such as Multimode Group, DBL Group, PRAN-RFL Group, and Richmond Hotels & Suites have signed pledge letters with WEConnect Int. signaling their intent to source more from women-owned businesses.