Washington, DC, September 2020 – Virtual has become the new normal. But how can we continue to do business, make connections and boost supplier diversity and inclusion worldwide when we can’t meet face-to-face?
WEConnect International has always leveraged technology to serve member buyers and women business owners based in over 120 countries. Since the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, technology has become not just one way, but the way WEConnect International delivers on our mission. We started by hosting our annual Cyber Gala virtually over a 24-hour period in April and continued that effort by leveraging technology for International Day in June to make it easier for women-owned businesses, corporate leaders and partners to learn and network together. And since then we have been delivering compelling training and conferences virtually around the world.
As summer winds down, the pandemic continues to impact businesses of all sizes in our global network. WEConnect International is committed to working with our network to develop and test innovative solutions to reach even more women business owners virtually with webinars led by our member buyers, mentoring opportunities with our certified women-owned enterprises and new funding partnerships that will enable us to expand our support to ultimately put more money into the hands of women.
Our registration numbers are booming – since the beginning of the year, we’ve added almost 2,000 new women-owned businesses to our database and the numbers continue to climb. Because of our strong local partnerships, we have also added five new countries to our network of women suppliers that are able to register their businesses with us for free.
We’ve added major new member buyers -- Olam International Limited, Standard Chartered Bank and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company as global members and Export Development Canada (EDC) and Kroger as market members in Canada. Several of these companies have already engaged with us in virtual events and in their efforts to engage with women-owned businesses.
And our exciting expansion continues in the 4th quarter when we launch the new WECommunity database, a platform with a more efficient and user-friendly interface. WECommunity will allow member buyers to post simple solicitations so that women-owned businesses can pitch their products and services and compete for business deals. Perhaps most importantly, WECommunity will be available in 10 languages positioning WEConnect International as a truly global supplier diversity resource.
As part of this upgrade, our website is being redesigned to make it more modern, compelling and user-friendly. We’ll be showcasing the success stories of our women-owned businesses front and center as well as our member buyers and their commitment to more inclusive and productive value chains.
COVID-19 has rocked the global economy. But with these challenges, there are opportunities to pivot and find virtual solutions to meet the needs of the changing business landscape. United together as partners in this shared commitment to supplier diversity and inclusion, we can all rebuild and make our value chains and economies stronger for a better tomorrow.
Elizabeth A. Vazquez
CEO and Co-Founder, WEConnect International