Understanding and Finding Women-Owned Business Enterprises

To effectively increase the number of women-owned business enterprises participating in corporate value chains, corporations must develop a network of suppliers that are both owned and controlled by women and capable of providing goods and services in the quantities and of the quality required by the corporations. This includes suppliers at all levels of the value chain. This requires, as an initial matter, an in-depth understanding of the potential supplier base and market opportunities, as well as a commitment by corporate management to pursue gender-responsive procurement.

The process of understanding and finding women-owned businesses begins simply enough by defining what it means to be a “women-owned business enterprise” for purposes of corporate procurement. This definition is foundational to understanding market capabilities, establishing baselines against which to measure progress, targeting technical and sometimes financial assistance, and determining which businesses are eligible for preferential procurement programs (ITC, 2014).

Corporate membership organizations such as WBENC in the U.S. and WEConnect International outside of the U.S. offer buyers access to certified women’s business enterprises.