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World Bank to support 1,200 women-owned businesses

  • Published at 03:26 pm February 9th, 2020
Women shak vegetable green crop land agriculture farmer
Women shak vegetable green crop land agriculture farmer Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

A business fair was also organized for women entrepreneurs to build networks and access corporate procurement opportunities

Women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh need better access to markets and corporate value chains to boost the country’s inclusive growth and to create more jobs, the World Bank Group said Sunday.

The global lender made the remark at the "Corporate Connect 2020 Conference and Business Fair" held in Dhaka.

The World Bank Group and the Ministry of Commerce, in collaboration with WEConnect International, with the support of We-Fi organized the conference and the business fair.

The World Bank Group together with WEConnect International jointly launched a project that would help 1,200 women-owned businesses connect with potential large local and multinational corporate buyers, said the group.

 It would also help enterprises access value chains and expand their business. The project is supported by the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi), it added.

“In Bangladesh, only 5% of formal micro, small and medium-sized companies are owned by women,” said Wendy Werner, International Finance Corporation (IFC)'s country manager for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal. 

“As an investor in emerging markets, IFC strongly believes that to enable companies and economies to grow, we must reduce the gaps between women and men in the private sector.”

The earlier pilot project provided capacity building training to over 150 women entrepreneurs and facilitated linkages with large corporations through various business networking opportunities and nearly 90% of the beneficiaries reported improvements in their businesses. 

The project also led to the creation of the country’s first supplier diversity advisory committee.

“The development of supply chain strategies is critical to the success of businesses, but women owned firms are often overlooked as key participants in those chains,” said Caren Grown, senior director, gender, World Bank Group. 

“Over the next three years, the project will help create a database of Bangladeshi women entrepreneurs in order to increase their participation in corporate value chains. The more that can be done to connect women-owned businesses with corporate buyers, the greater will be the benefit to both women entrepreneurs and to Bangladesh.”

Policymakers and business leaders attended the conference, where best practices to diversify value chains were also discussed. 

A business fair was also organized for women entrepreneurs to build networks and access corporate procurement opportunities.

“The conference provides a platform for the government, private sector, and institutional partners to support women entrepreneurs to succeed in value chains and make their mark on the local and global economy,” said Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, who attended as chief guest. 

“We hope this will encourage more companies to buy from women-owned businesses that provide innovative homegrown products and services.”

Globally, women-owned small and medium businesses earn less than one percent of the money spent by large corporations and governments on suppliers. Connecting women entrepreneurs to corporate buyers helps to diversify value chains while delivering equitable, broad-based economic growth.

“WEConnect International is excited to bring its expertise in gender-inclusive sourcing to help buyers gain a competitive edge and women-owned businesses reach a broader market with their goods and services,” said Elizabeth A. Vazquez, CEO and co-founder of WEConnect International.

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