Washington, D.C., November 20, 2018—IFC,
a member of the World Bank Group, and WEConnect International, a global
network of corporations committed to sourcing goods and services from women
suppliers, signed an agreement to boost access to markets for women-owned
small and medium enterprises in emerging markets. The agreement is IFC’s
first active partnership supported by the Women
Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative,
Under the agreement, IFC and WEConnect
International will increase the
number of companies that source from women-owned businesses, with an emphasis
on Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America. Activities will include
peer-learning sessions for companies on the business case for sourcing
from women and highlight approaches from corporations with diverse and
inclusive global value chains. Topics will address strategies that companies
can adopt to identify and support women suppliers as well as emerging practices
in improving access to working capital.
Small and medium enterprises, or SMEs, 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.
But lack of access to markets is a key barrier to growth for SMEs owned
or led by women. Large corporations spend less
than 1 percent of their global
procurement budget on women-owned businesses, leaving key business and
development benefits untapped.
“At IFC, we believe supply-chain diversity
is beneficial for companies because it can promote innovation, boost competition,
and improve productivity,” said Hans Peter Lankes, IFC’s Vice President
for Economics and Private Sector Development. “For women suppliers, more
contracts mean access to new markets and customers, more predictable demand,
and opportunities to grow their business.”
The agreement with WEConnect International
is part of IFC’s commitment to expand women entrepreneurs' confidence,
capacity, capital, community, and access to contracts.
IFC—a sister organization of the World Bank and member of the World Bank
Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private
sector in emerging markets. We work with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide,
using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities
in the toughest areas of the world. In fiscal year 2018, we delivered more
than $23 billion in long-term financing for developing countries, leveraging
the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared
prosperity. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.
A corporate-led, global nonprofit, WEConnect
International works with an alliance of over 80 multinational corporations
that have committed to sourcing more from women-owned businesses based
in over 100 countries. The membership collectively represents over $1 trillion
in annual purchasing power. WEConnect International identifies, educates,
registers, and certifies women’s business enterprises based outside of
the U.S. that are at least 51 percent owned, as well as managed and controlled
by one or more women, and connects them with large buyers.
Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative
(We-Fi) is a collaborative partnership
among 14 governments (Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, Japan,
the Netherlands, Norway, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Republic
of Korea, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United
States), eight multilateral development banks and other public and private
stakeholders. Housed in the World Bank Group, We-Fi seeks to unlock billions
of dollars in financing to tackle the full range of barriers facing women
entrepreneurs—increasing access to finance, markets, technology, and mentoring,
while strengthening policy and legal and regulatory frameworks. For more
information, visit www.we-fi.org.