A Global Partnership to Support Women-Owned Businesses

A Global Partnership to Support Women-Owned Businesses

Large corporations spend less than 1 percent of their global procurement budget on women-owned businesses. IFC and WEConnect International are working with big-name, global companies to change that.

On February 21, IFC and WEConnect International hosted the first in a series of global roundtables in Johannesburg, South Africa to boost gender-inclusive sourcing in Africa.

The event brought together large corporations and financial institutions to learn and share proven strategies to expand access to supply chains for women-owned businesses. Participants included Coca-Cola Co., Procter & Gamble Co., Citibank South Africa, and Uber Inc. as well as large South African banks and enterprise development organizations.

The roundtable is part of a 2018 partnership between IFC and WEConnect International, a global network of corporations committed to sourcing goods and services from gender diverse suppliers, increasing market access for women entrepreneurs.  The membership collectively represents over $1 trillion in annual purchasing power.

“We want to ensure women are equally contributing to and benefiting from economic growth,” says WEConnect International CEO & Co-Founder, Elizabeth A. Vazquez.

Why supply chains?

Small and medium enterprises are a key driver of economic growth, creating four out of five new, formal jobs in emerging markets. Women own or operate over one third of SMEs in emerging markets. In Africa alone, IFC estimates there’s a $49 billion credit demand gap for women-owned SMEs and that more than half of women-owned small businesses are partially or fully constrained financially.

A lack of access to markets is a key barrier to growth for small businesses, especially those owned or led by women. Providing access to markets via corporate supply chains gives women entrepreneurs access to clients, and opportunities to further professionalize their enterprises - both are necessary for business growth.

Additionally, increasing women’s representation in supply chains improves corporates ability to anticipate diverse customer needs, stimulate innovation and competition, and enhance their brand, according to WEConnect International research.

“Large and innovative companies are a powerful conduit for small companies, especially those run by women entrepreneurs,” said Mary-Jean Moyo, Regional Industry Director, Manufacturing, Agribusiness, Services for Middle East and Africa at IFC.