On January 7th, an inaugural event was hosted in Dhaka, Bangladesh to mark the start of a capacity building 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 towards women business owners of micro, small and medium enterprises in Bangladesh to enhance their supply chain linkages. Deputy Manager, Sustainability of DBL Group, Mr Mashook Mujib Chowdhury and Dr. Nadia Binte Amin from the Women Entrepreneurs Network for Development Association, also joined the program.
“The inaugural event will introduce the participants to the overall capacity building program, an orientation to the online courses and how to navigate those programs through website,” World Bank Group Private Sector Specialist, Hosna Ferdous Sumi said. “This marks the exciting beginnings of a new platform of women-owned businesses in Bangladesh that are looking to grow their footprint through corporate procurement opportunities.”
According to studies conducted by WEConnect International, women-owned businesses earn less than 1 percent of all money spent on vendors by large corporations and governments worldwide. This project builds better connections between women-owned businesses and corporate buyers, provides capacity building training, and helps promote the business case for sourcing from women in Bangladesh.
As part of this project, a campaign was conducted to identify growth-oriented women-owned and women-led businesses in Bangladesh that are interested in selling their goods and services to corporations. The 67 businesses selected to receive online training have a median 2017 revenue of 800,000 BDT, and 60% have been in operation for at least three years. The businesses represent sectors including RMG, Handicrafts, E-commerce, ICT Services, and Food & Beverage.
Online training participants will have access to a web-based course that will be open from January 9 – January 31. Participants will receive training and expert advice on a variety of topics relating to business strategy and operations, as well as how to navigate procurement processes and pitch to corporate buyers.
This online training program is part of Bangladesh Investment Climate Fund, funded by the UK Department for International Development, and is focused on export diversification and gender-related activities. In addition to virtual training, 40 exceptional growth-oriented women-owned businesses in diverse sectors have been selected to participate in in-person training, to be held in Dhaka in partnership with a number of corporate partners who will share business insights relevant to the training topics. This will be complemented by a Forum event in March and networking opportunities between corporate buyers and women-owned businesses to identify potential business contract opportunities. WEConnect International, in collaboration with the local partners, is providing technical support to implement the program in Bangladesh.