South Asia Vendor Forum for Woman-Owned Businesses

Photo: Visual News Associates / World Bank

The South Asia Vendor Forum for Woman-Owned Businesses is part of a series of virtual learning events that the World Bank Group will be conducting, targeting woman-owned businesses across different geographies. These outreach events aim to provide clarity on how to access WBG Corporate Procurement business opportunities and increase the capacity of woman-owned businesses to participate in competitive solicitations.

Event Summary and Highlights

The South Asia Vendor Forum for Woman-Owned Businesses focused on explaining WBG Corporate Procurement rules and procedures, our vendor eligibility criteria and the vendor registration process. It also provided an insight about what WBG purchases at the regional level, to keep country offices in South Asia operating, and where to find these business opportunities. 

Participants learned about the WBG’s commitment to double procurement spend with woman-owned businesses by 2023, from Mr. Shaolin Yang, Managing Director and WBG Chief Administrative Officer, who provided a warm welcome to participants: 

"Realizing this commitment and investing in women-owned businesses introduces innovation and new perspectives into our vendor base. It helps us develop valuable vendor relationships and achieve the WBG’s global goals of eliminating extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity."

Shaolin Yang, Managing Director and WBG Chief Administrative Officer

In her remarks, Ms. Caren Grown, WBG Global Director, Gender emphasized the critical role that women-owned enterprises play for job creation and growth, especially in sectors that are critical to the diversification of the economy. She also highlighted evidence showing that women entrepreneurs are being disproportionally affected by the contraction of economic activity and the increased responsibilities to caring for family due to the COVID pandemic: 

"We need to understand this context and develop a whole ecosystem approach to help women-owned firms’ rebound, access markets and capital and be able to provide the products and services that they want. This is a particularly important opportunity for us in the WBG to take a hard look at whom and where we are procuring from."

Caren Grown, WBG Global Director for Gender

Ms. Wendy Jo Werner, IFC Country Manager for Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan, provided insight into  how the IFC, the private sector arm of the WBG, delivers opportunities for access to markets and access to finance for Women SMEs in their work both globally and in the South Asia region:

"Having more women as business owners boosts opportunities for jobs and community development…the IFC Advisory Program has implemented a supplier diversity program in Bangladesh, piloted with over 150 women entrepreneurs to enhance knowledge and capacity on corporate procurement practices especially around large business groups and opportunities in Bangladesh." 

Wendy Jo Werner, IFC Country Manager

The Vendor Forum closed with a discussion with Dr. Tania Ray Bhattacharya, founder and CEO of The Celestial Earth, a woman-owned business that the WBG currently works with. Participants had the opportunity to hear directly from her experience working with the WBG, and learn from advice she shared for those companies interested in doing business with the WBG:

"As women, our emotions and passions for social causes, responsibility towards our children and family, the urge and need for being economically independent and our continuous struggles are actually our strengths, which make us more inclusive and mentally powerful…Please don't shy away from approaching big multilaterals like the World Bank Group. The World Bank is very supportive to all their vendors, especially to women-owned businesses."

Dr. Tania Ray Bhattacharya, Founder and CEO, The Celestial Earth

Watch this space for announcements on future vendor forums.

For more information about the World Bank Group’s commitment to supplier diversity, please review the Supplier Diversity information in our website.

Session Presentation

Doing Business with the World Bank Group (presentation)