WEConnect International has launched the Women’s Business Enterprise Certification for businesses that are at least 51% owned, managed and controlled by one or more women in Sri Lanka. WEConnect International Certification is a globally-recognized assessment process available in 50 countries that is designed to make it easier for women-owned businesses to scale within global value chains.

With certification, women-owned businesses can dramatically increase their online visibility with a full company profile listed in a searchable, global database of 14,000+ registered and/or certified women-owned suppliers. Available in 10 languages, the database is used by WEConnect International’s member buyers—including some of the largest corporations in the world—to identify women-owned suppliers for sourcing. Certified businesses can also use the globally-recognized Women Owned logo on consumer-facing products to enhance and differentiate their brand.

Benefits of certification also include virtual and in-person “meet the member” opportunities with large buyers that provide opportunities for women-owned businesses to learn about the buyer’s gender inclusive sourcing efforts, buying needs, criteria to become a supplier and upcoming contracting opportunities. There are also formal mentorship programs offered by WEConnect International members on a select basis and in-person and virtual webinar-based training and capacity-building programs through WEConnect Academy.

“The certification process opens doors for Sri Lankan women business owners seeking access to corporations, specifically WEConnect International’s member buyers who are committed to gender inclusive sourcing,” says Eroshan Alagaretnam, Regional Director, South Asia, WEConnect International.

“For members like Marriott International, certification provides the reassurance we need when seeking to buy from verified women-owned business,” said Bharanidharan Ramaswamy, Director of Procurement, APEC Region, Marriott International.

Certification follows on the heels of the training programs that WEConnect International has been conducting to build the capacity of women-owned businesses in Sri Lanka. In just the past four months, 88 women-owned businesses were trained in strategic planning and 70 in marketing and sales, with 300 more women-owned businesses invited to participate this year.

This unique training which is part of a three-year project that WEConnect International is implementing regionally called, “Women’s Empowerment through Economic Inclusion,” is designed to generate long-term opportunities for women business owners to connect and conduct business with large buyers, including local and multinational corporations, government agencies, and non-profit and non-governmental organizations.

Funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, the project was created in response to an Ecosystem Research Report conducted in partnership between the U.S. State Department and WEConnect International. [Ecosystem-Research-Report-on-South-Asia.pdf (media-weconnectinternational-org.s3.amazonaws.com)]. The report revealed that in Sri Lanka, women-owned businesses face more institutional and cultural barriers than their male counterparts, especially when accessing business finance, collateral assets, markets, information, networks, training, education and when competing in male-dominated industries. Because of this, women business owners are hindered in their ability to do business with large corporations, which in turn limits the growth and expansion of their businesses. 

Certification was launched at an event hosted by WEConnect International and included the Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Export Development Board, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, several regional Chambers such as Hambantotta and Kandy, as well as Hatch, a Colombo-based incubator.

For further information on the project, certification or ways to enroll in the training programs, please contact the organizers at: ealagaretnam@weconnectinternational.org.

About WEConnect International

WEConnect International is a member-led, global non-profit that brings motivated, large corporate, multilateral and government buyers together with qualified women-owned suppliers around the world. It works with more than 150 multinational buyers, with over $1 trillion in combined annual purchasing power, that have committed to sourcing more products and services from women-owned businesses based in over 130 countries. WEConnect International identifies, educates, registers and certifies women’s business enterprises based outside of the U.S. that are at least 51% owned, managed and controlled by one or more women. For more information, visit www.WEConnectInternational.org.

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