WEConnect International Certifies a Bright Future for Women-Owned Business

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Groundbreaking women's business enterprise network makes its own women's history, connecting entrepreneurs in developed and emerging markets to multinational corporations

“No matter where they are in the world, when women start and grow businesses, economies, communities and individuals benefit,” says Elizabeth A. Vazquez, CEO and Co-founder, WEConnect International.

As the nation kicks off its annual celebration of women’s history, WEConnect International, the corporate-led non-profit that empowers women-owned businesses to thrive in global markets, is equally focused on the future.

WEConnect International is the first organization to certify women-owned businesses in both developed and emerging markets.

“No matter where they are in the world, when women start and grow businesses, economies, communities and individuals benefit,” says Elizabeth A. Vazquez, CEO and Co-founder, WEConnect International. “With the success of each certified women-owned business, entering the global supply chain becomes a little easier for the next.”

Since its founding in 2009, WEConnect International has dedicated itself to identifying, registering and certifying businesses at least 51 percent owned, managed and controlled by one or more women, teaming with public- and private-sector partners to provide women entrepreneurs with the resources, platform and network needed to build and develop sustainable economic opportunities in new markets.

Even in the world’s most challenging environments, dynamic women entrepreneurs are creating jobs and economic prosperity.

"There's a growing demand for corporations to reach out to diverse suppliers that better reflect specific markets, to increase shareholder value and enhance competitive advantage,” says Parul Soni, Executive Director at Ernst & Young in New Delhi, India.
E&Y is a founding corporate member of WEConnect International.

The last year has been one of remarkable accomplishments for WEConnect and its partners. Highlights include:

●    In India, the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA), the UN International Trade Centre (ITC), The World Bank and WEConnect International launched a grassroots program designed to develop the skills of SEWA Gitanjali waste-pickers, the majority of whom were poor, illiterate and vulnerable female laborers. With the objective to improve their livelihood prospects and sustained income, the project partners trained SEWA members in the production and marketing of office products made from 100 percent recycled paper. Still underway, the project has already resulted in a 200 percent increase in productivity, increased earnings by 10 times, reduced input wastage by 88 percent, and made SEWA Gitanjali a competitively priced supplier to Accenture, a WEConnect founding corporate member.

●    In Peru, the U.S. Department of State and USAID Pathways Access Initiative (PAI) has given women business owners access to retail markets and economic productivity in ways never before possible. In partnership with WEConnect International, the ongoing project has, since last summer, allowed women entrepreneurs throughout the country to overcome geographic, financial and educational barriers and obtain professional guidance, resources and WEConnect certification. In addition, by fostering relationships with other WEConnect network members, Peruvian women are now able to connect with inspired, like-minded businesswomen the world over, as well as multinational corporations interested in tapping new suppliers to produce relevant, innovative products.

●    In Canada, where certifying women-owned businesses is a relatively new concept, WEConnect has worked overtime to encourage its adaptation: with women eager to secure brand-building deals, and founding corporate members to open their doors to diverse vendors. In September, WEConnect signed on to support Walmart with its Global Women's Economic Empowerment Initiative, an ambitious plan with the potential for major economic impact. The multi-year initiative includes plans to empower women across the retailer's global supply chain, by doubling sourcing from women suppliers and dedicating space on the Walmart.com website to women-made products.

For more information about the WEConnect International network of corporations and certified women-owned businesses, visit http://www.WEConnectInternational.org.

Follow WEConnect on Twitter: @WEConnection

About WEConnect International
WEConnect International, a corporate-led global 501(c)(3) non-profit, helps build sustainable communities and economic growth by empowering women business owners to succeed and thrive in global markets. Based in Washington, D.C., WEConnect International has since 2009 provided certification, resources, mentoring and peer/corporate connections to businesses based outside the United States that are at least 51 percent owned, managed and controlled by women. As well as a network active throughout Canada and Europe, WEConnect is the first organization to certify women-owned businesses in emerging markets in Latin America and Asia.

The WEConnect corporate network represents more than US$700 billion in annual purchasing power. Global members are true pioneers in the new field of inclusive sourcing and global supplier development: Accenture, Alcatel-Lucent, AT&T, The Boeing Company, Cisco Systems Inc., Coca-Cola, Cummins Inc., Dun & Bradstreet, Ernst & Young, ExxonMobil, Full Circle Exchange, GlaxoSmithKline, Goldman Sachs, Hewlett-Packard Company, IBM, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Manpower Inc., Marriott International, Microsoft, Motorola Solutions, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Pfizer Inc., RBS, United Technologies, Verizon, and Walmart Stores.

For more information about WEConnect International, visit http://www.WEConnectInternational.org.

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Angela Chitkara
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