- In the past few decades, growth in the number of women-owned businesses has been encouraging. What are the reasons for this?
The growth of women’s entrepreneurship has recorded a significant increase across the world. This upward trend is promising and it is because of several factors, the primary one being that of enabling government policies strengthened by social dynamics that have in the past few decades shifted in favour of women entrepreneurs. However, women-owned businesses remain marginalized across the world, though the context varies across economies. According to “How to Rebuild Global Business for Good,” a special report underwritten by Moody’s Corporation and TD Bank Group and led by WEConnect International, when women business owners gain access to markets and capital, everyone benefits—employees, families, communities and the global economy.
- Women businesses can significantly contribute to building a sustainable and inclusive economy. How are you enabling them?
Policymakers, corporations, multilateral institutions and women business owners themselves all agree that now, more than ever, we need more women to start and grow businesses in order to sustain inclusive growth and prosperity. Global trade is now worth trillions of dollars, and if it can flow into the hands of women-owned businesses, they will reinvest their wealth into their families and communities worldwide. According to McKinsey & Company, advancing women’s equality, including their economic participation, could add $12 trillion to global growth by 2025. While one-third of all privately owned businesses in the world are owned by women, those same businesses receive less than one percent of large corporate and government spending with suppliers on average globally.
WEConnect International has initiated several training and certification programs for buyers and sellers across countries. Our 160+ global member buyers are encouraged to commit to a specific spending target and support advancing opportunities for women-owned businesses around the world. On the other side of the spectrum, many more women are encouraged to bring their ideas to market for an increasingly diverse community of global citizens hungry for the solutions women can deliver if given an equal opportunity. Promoting supplier diversity can have a multiplier effect on national and global GDP.
- Equitable market access is key for encouraging more women to become entrepreneurs. How can stakeholders support it?
Fair access to sources of organic growth—that is income that does not need to be paid back with interest or equity-can be a great leveller for women business owners. Overall, they want contracts to fill orders, deliver solutions, grow their businesses and create jobs for others. For the most part, challenges that women-owned businesses face are universal, particularly in emerging economies. These challenges include access to technology, capital and to markets for their products and services. However, we see positive change in this direction as more and more women-owned businesses are registering and getting their businesses certified with WEConnect International in the realm of supplier diversity and inclusion. Global corporations too have increased their spending to strengthen gender-responsive supply chains.
- How is WEConnect International empowering and encouraging women in businesses to lead the way?
WEConnect International is facilitating and supporting training courses to help women business owners improve their business readiness, such as capacity-building, business pitch preparation, negotiation techniques and navigating the complexities of corporate supply chains. We offer certification initiatives so buyers can be assured that a business is 51% owned, managed and controlled by women. We also organize business match-making events to connect corporations with women business owners. It is worth mentioning here that when buyers do business with women-owned businesses, it increases their diversity around their supply matrix. So, there is a positive ripple effect occurring across the globe due to our work.