We-Fi scales up capacity-building for women-owned SMEs

Staff Correspondent

4 July, 2021 12:00 AM printer

We-Fi scales up capacity-building for women-owned SMEs

The Bangladesh chapter of World Bank’s Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) launched a capacity-building programme recently to enhance women entrepreneurs’ ability to do business with large buyers.

The project 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 programme, said a press release.

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 programme 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 (WB).

The capacity building programme will include a 20-hour Advanced Training Programme, a pitch training and finally support to establish linkages between WSMEs and buyers through business matchmaking events.

 “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.

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.

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.

With Bangladesh’s GDP expected to grow by 6.8 percent in 2021 and 7.2 percent 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.

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.