Anta Babacar Ngom Bathily, CEO of SEDIMA, at her family chicken farm in Malika, Senegal.
Anta Babacar Ngom, CEO of SEDIMA, at her family chicken farm in Malika, Senegal. © Dominic Chavez/IFC

Private sector procurement from women-owned and led small and medium enterprises (WSMEs) vastly lags that of male-owned and led SMEs. Although one-third of registered SMEs globally are estimated to have been created by women, large corporations and governments spend less than 1 percent of their procurement budgets on WSMEs (WEConnect International, 2017), leaving key business and development benefits untapped.

WSMEs face structural barriers in growing their businesses due to their limited access to finance, business networks, and market information. Consequently, these barriers limit WSMEs’ ability to access new markets, including procurement contracts with private sector buyers. Companies can address the gender imbalance in their supply chains by purchasing from more women. Addressing gender inequalities in supply chains can help boost productivity, enhance sustainability, and promote innovation for buyers.

Sourcing2Equal is an IFC-led global program launched in 2019 in partnership with the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) and the Government of Norway. The program seeks to connect thousands of women entrepreneurs to new market opportunities via corporate procurement by 2023 in four countries. The program involves: i) conducting market research and case studies on the business case for buyers to increase their purchasing from WSMEs, ii) supporting private sector companies to adopt policies and innovations that facilitate WSMEs access to corporate procurement contracts, iii) building the capacity of WSMEs to meet corporate procurement requirements, and iv) connecting WSMEs to supply chain finance solutions.

Sourcing2Equal Kenya

Sourcing2Equal Kenya, launched in 2021, is the first country project under the Sourcing2Equal Program that brings together 10 corporate buyers to make specific, measurable, and time-bound commitments to increase access to corporate procurement opportunities for WSMEs. The project seeks to address barriers faced by both buyers and WSMEs through three activities: i) corporate peer learning on how to increase sourcing from WSMEs, ii) capacity building of WSMEs on corporate procurement requirements, and iii) access to finance for WSMEs. IFC’s Sourcing2Equal Diagnostic Tool is used to help buyers identify gaps and opportunities to increase their purchasing from WSMEs. The tool assesses how inclusive a buyer’s supplier base, procurement operations and policies are, and provides a tailored assessment and action plan based on international best practices for gender-inclusive sourcing. The project also builds on the IFC-led study that identified gender gaps and barriers that Kenyan WSMEs face in accessing corporate procurement contracts, and highlighted emerging practices of buyers to increase sourcing from WSMEs.

Sourcing2Equal Global Research – Harnessing Procurement Opportunities to Create Markets for Women Entrepreneurs in Emerging Markets

In 2021, IFC launched a global research on the business case for private sector procurement from women-owned businesses. Research is in partnership with Accenture Development Partnership and WEConnect International. The research is underway and aims to demonstrate how purchasing from WSMEs can yield business benefits in emerging markets and encourage buyers to make more inclusive procurement decisions. The research also seeks to identify supply chain financing solutions for WSMEs.

WeFi logo and Flag of Norway indicating Sourcing2Equal program partnership with We-Fi and the Government of NorwayPartnership with Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) and Norway

Sourcing2Equal program is implemented in partnership with We-Fi and the Government of Norway. We-Fi is a collaborative partnership among the 14 governments that have made financial contributions, six multilateral development banks that serve as implementing partners, and other public and private stakeholders. We-Fi invests in programs and projects that help unlock billions of dollars in financing to address the full range of barriers facing women entrepreneurs—increasing access to finance, markets, technology, and mentoring, while also strengthening policy, legal and regulatory frameworks. As one of the We-Fi Implementing Partners, IFC supports private sector clients with investment and advisory services to expand financial services and market access for women-owned and led businesses, as well as increasing the capacity of women entrepreneurs to run high-growth businesses.

Flag of NorwayIFC-WEConnect International Global Partnership

From 2018 to 2021, IFC partnered with WEConnect International to help boost women-owned businesses’ access to market and finance in emerging markets. The partnership focused on increasing the awareness of the business case for sourcing goods and services from WSMEs. Corporate peer-learning activities under the partnership took place in the Andean Region, Bangladesh (in partnership with the World Bank), India, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa, and Turkey. Corporates and financial institutions participated in roundtables and best practice sessions, shared experiences and challenges and discussed recommendations on advancing purchasing from WSMEs and financial access of WSMEs.

Collaboration with Women4Business Daring Circle                                              

In 2022, IFC joined the Women4Business Daring Circle as an Expert Member. The Women4Business Daring Circle, an initiative of the Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society, is committed to promoting women’s economic empowerment in business and supply chains through enhancing women’s entrepreneurship and leadership. Through this collaboration, IFC contributes to increasing awareness and co-creating tools and resources for private sector companies with the aim build inclusive and diverse supply chains. Women4Business Daring Circle partners with industry thought leaders including P&GBNP ParibasExxonMobilJohnson & JohnsonL’Oréal, Publicis Groupe, Kearney, Clifford Chance, WEConnect International, and HEC.


World Bank Group logo

World Bank Group’s Commitment to purchase from Women-owned businesses

The World Bank Group (WBG) has committed to closing gender gaps in procurement contracts through its Supplier Diversity Program. In 2018, the WBG announced a commitment to double the amount of business WBG awards to women-owned businesses around the world by 2023. This global initiative is supported by membership in WBENC and WEConnect International, the latter focused on the development and accreditation of women-owned businesses in WBG client countries. Learn more about this initiative at Corporate Procurement Website or contact