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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
, or We-Fi.
Under the agreement, IFC and
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
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.
Women 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
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