Although women own millions of businesses worldwide, women entrepreneurs only receive a small portion of the money that large firms spend annually on new business contracts. An emerging initiative seeks to significantly lessen that dichotomy.
Some key corporations, including Wal-Mart, Coca Cola, IBM, and Exxon, plan to award $1.5 billion in contracts to women-owned businesses between now and 2018, CNN reported.
The opportunity will help about 15,000 women entrepreneurs who own and run companies outside of the United States. The business owners will be given the opportunity to compete for new business contracts worldwide, according to Elizabeth Vazquez, CEO and co-founder of WEConnect. WEConnect is a non-profit dedicated to women business owners and is behind this opportunity with Vital Voices Global Partnership, a non-governmental organization (NGO) founded by former U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
The larger firms and some non-profits are also offering training, mentoring, and strategy development assistance so that women business owners can more effectively build their businesses and compete in the global marketplace, Vazquez explained.
The just-announced initiative is part of the Clinton Global Initiative and also includes tracking and measuring the $1.5 billion funding. According to Vazquez, outside of the U.S. and Africa, most organizations do not track money by gender; however, the data compiled from this initiative will, “establish a baseline [and] build the infrastructure to track and measure progress” to ensure broader business success for women entrepreneurs.
Vazquez points out that the funding is not a grant and that not all 15,000 businesses will receive contracts. “This isn’t a grant. It’s a business endeavor from these companies,” Vazquez told CNN. “The whole point of this is to get more money in the hands of these women so that they can grow their businesses. But they have to compete for these contracts.”
While more work is needed in the U.S., this initiative is available to businesses outside of the county, where women-owned businesses are not doing as well as U.S. women-owned firms. Vazquez told CNN, “A lot more still has to be done to empower women-owned business here…. But outside of the United States, we found that there is no infrastructure or support to help them succeed.”
Kavilanz, Parija. “Global firms commit $1.5B for women-owned businesses“; September 25, 2013.