Women Empowerment

Access to Markets: Unlocking the Potential of Women Suppliers

The CEO and Founder of WeConnect International on connecting women-owned business to the global supply chain. Vasquez will be a featured speaker at the Power Shift Forum: Women in the World Economy at Georgetown University May 4-5.

May 03, 2016

Barriers that keep women suppliers from winning business are barriers to economic growth itself. Women who supply products and services are drivers of the economy locally and globally. They invest the majority of their income back into their families and communities. If men and women participated equally in the global economy, the global GDP could increase by as much as US$28 trillion.

Yet the so-called “Gender Gap” persists for women suppliers, and lack of access is at the heart of the issue. Numerous studies have shown that around the world women business owners lack adequate access to markets, finance and training—keeping them from scaling their companies.

At WEConnect International, we devote much of our time and resources into providing women suppliers in 100 countries with access to business training and networking with our corporate members who represent over US$1 trillion in annual purchasing power. Since we opened our doors in 2009, we have provided more than 6,000 women with market access training and business networking events, and with each year, the impact of our work with buyers and sellers grows.

Last year, with the support of Canada’s International Development Research Centre, WEConnect International launched the “Growing Women-Owned Businesses in India by Building on Private Sector Initiatives” project. The project allowed us to collect data on some of our certified and registered women’s business enterprises in India.

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We found that our women business owners think big and act big.  They are growing their companies and creating jobs in their communities. The 57 enterprises surveyed generate over US$127 million annually and employ more than 4,600 people across India. That’s 4,600 families, which means over 15,000 people are reaping the benefits of women succeeding as suppliers.

What we found most striking in our research is how most of our certified women-owned businesses still do not have adequate access to finance. Only one-third of businesses surveyed have access to a loan or line of credit through their bank. Given that the women are growing their companies and employing more people over time, financial institutions are missing a huge business and investment opportunity.

Institutions leading the way on financial inclusion are not only developing products that meet the needs of women as consumers, they are also leveraging their own purchasing power with women as suppliers who can help them anticipate the needs of women consumers.

MasterCard is a great example of a leader in financial inclusion and global supplier diversity and MasterCard is in good company with other WEConnect International members such as Access Bank, American Express, Barclays, Business Development Bank of Canada, BNYMellon, Garanti Bank, Goldman Sachs, Inter-American Development Bank, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Scotland, TD Bank, Wells Fargo, Westpac Bank, etc.

Unleashing the economic power of women as suppliers is good business and a ladder up for countries wanting to grow their local companies, increase their GDP, and create much-needed jobs.  Women are not looking for special treatment, but they do expect to have equal access to opportunity and when they do, everyone prospers!

Vasquez was featured at the Power Shift Forum: Women in the World Economy at Georgetown University May 4-5. 

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