April 02, 2018

On April 3rd, WEConnect International will host their 2nd annual Awards Gala at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. The event will be attended by over 200 Fortune 500 corporate members, government officials, thought leaders, and philanthropic and civil society organizations, who are champions for women’s entrepreneurship and economic empowerment writ large.

This year’s Gala theme will be a “Focus on 5”—celebrating achievements made towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the actions taken by WEConnect International’s alliance of global members and partners to support SDG 5: achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.

“We envision a world in which women have the same opportunity as their male counterparts to create wealth and ensure the sustainable prosperity of their communities,” says WEConnect International CEO and Co-Founder Elizabeth Vazquez. “Today, women-owned businesses earn less than 1% of the $1 trillion spent on vendors by large corporations and governments.” The International Gala comes at a moment where private industry leaders are committing to move the needle above 1%.  Corporate members of WEConnect International have increased their spend with non U.S.-based women-owned businesses by 12% over the previous year.

WEConnect International’s Corporate Member of the Year Award will go to ExxonMobil. Since 2005, ExxonMobil has invested a total of $120 million in its Women’s Economic Opportunity Initiative and will partner with organizations across sectors to launch the new SheCounts initiative. Linda Ducharme, ExxonMobil’s Global Services Company President, will accept the award.

President of the World Bank Group, Dr. Jim Yong Kim will accept the Gala’s Distinguished Champion Award, on behalf of the World Bank Group, and provide the night’s keynote address. In 2017, the World Bank Group established the $1 billion Women’s Entrepreneur Finance Initiative Fund and recently announced its commitment to double its corporate procurement spend on women-owned business.

Canada’s Minister of Small Business and Tourism, the Honorable Bardish Chagger will accept the Outstanding International Government Leader Award. A strong supporter of WEConnect International since 2008, the Canadian Government’s recently introduced 2018 Federal Budget includes close to $2 billion in Canadian funds to help women-owned businesses.

WEConnect International will also honor Semra İnce Şengöz from Pachamama Gida and Tanya Walker from Walker Law, as the two Women's Business Enterprise of the Year Award Winners in Products and Services, respectively. 

The evening’s agenda will also include special entertainment by breakthrough artist Shelita Burke, rated #14 on Billboard’s Next Big Sound Chart.

For more information about the 2018 WEConnect International Gala, visit the website.


WEConnect International helps women-owned businesses succeed in global value chains. It identifies, educates, registers, and certifies women's business enterprises based outside of the U.S. that are at least 51% owned, managed, and controlled by one or more women, and then connects them with qualified member buyers.