Corporate Connect: Strengthening Market Access for Women Business Owners is a World Bank Group project implemented by WEConnect International that seeks to generate long-term opportunities for women-owned businesses to connect and conduct business with local and multinational corporations in Bangladesh. This project is one of the first in Bangladesh to bring women-owned businesses and corporations together to assess the potential for market linkages and has great promise given the strong retail and wholesale presence of major corporations in the country.

The project began with surveys and focus group discussions to better understand the challenges and opportunities for gender-inclusive sourcing in Bangladesh. The next phase provided capacity building training to over 150 women entrepreneurs and secured early commitments from corporations to buy more from women-owned businesses. In 2019, the project expanded to engage additional senior corporate representatives and connect them to women-owned businesses under the World Bank’s Bangladesh Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) and as part of a global partnership between IFC and WEConnect International.

In February 2020, The World Bank Group and the Ministry of Commerce of Bangladesh, in collaboration with WEConnect International, hosted the 2020 Conference & Business Fair to bring together women business owners, corporate buyers, and association partners to champion the movement for supplier diversity. The more than 180 guests at the event participated in a senior corporate roundtable, a business fair showcasing women-owned goods and services, a business pitch competition, and a meet-the-buyer session.

Ongoing efforts center around the recruitment of local and multinational corporations in Bangladesh to join the supplier diversity movement, and women business owners in Bangladesh to join our network of entrepreneurs and corporate buyers.

Picture 1 for Banglash Press ReleaseThe event featured distinguished guests Mr. Lutfur Rahaman, Senior Assistant Secretary, Ministry of Commerce of Bangladesh (second from left) and accomplished entrepreneur Mrs. Rokia Afzal Rahman, president of the Bangladesh Federation of Women Entrepreneurs (fourth from left).February 2nd marked the launch of a unique in-person training program under the initiative “Corporate Connect: Strengthening Market Access for Women-Owned Businesses”- a technical advisory project implemented by the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group and The Ministry of Commerce of Bangladesh. This inaugural event was targeted to women business owners of micro, small and medium enterprises in Bangladesh to enhance their supply chain linkages to some of the biggest local and multinational corporations sourcing from Bangladesh.

Bangladesh3A discussion titled ‘Women in Business: Dhaka Roundtable on Strengthening Market Access and Integration into Corporate Value Chains’ was held at Amari Hotel in Dhaka.

Senior executives and managers from national and international corporations, women business owners of micro, small and medium enterprises, business associations, NGOs, donor agencies and high-level government officials from the Ministry of Commerce, including Secretary Shubhashish, attended the program.

Bangladesh1A roundtable discussion (RTD) on Strengthening Market Access for Women Business Owners took place at the office of Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD) on January 22nd, 2018. The event discussed how Women Business Enterprises (WBE) in Bangladesh can be connected with the buyers around the world who procures goods of trillions of dollars each year.

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NicolasPicardCropNicolas Picard
Research, Analysis, and Project Manager
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