Welcoming the World’s Women: Empowerment through the Global Supply Chain

Welcoming the World’s Women: Empowerment through the Global Supply Chain

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Thursday, June 5, 2014 - 2:55pm

CAMPAIGN: Economic Empowerment


In the next five years, 12 million women business owners around the world plan to grow their businesses by at least six employees. The global business community has a tremendous opportunity to empower these enterprising women through the purchasing power of their supply chains.  Where philanthropy currently provides millions of dollars in sporadic assistance to women around the world, the purchasing power of large supply chains might provide billions in sustainable impact to women entrepreneurs.

Introducing diversity into one’s supply chain makes business sense. Where all things are equal, it lowers risk to purchase from suppliers whose characteristics differ from traditional suppliers. Developing more, and stronger, women-owned businesses also mean more competition, which can lower prices. Hence, both international women and the corporations that source from them can benefit from supplier diversity programs.

Despite the great opportunities that come from buying from women, there are also challenges. Finding international women entrepreneurs who are ready to be large suppliers can be difficult. To better understand the opportunities and challenges of buying from women-owned businesses around the world, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation conducted research on purchasing from women-owned businesses in emerging economies. The research, From Millions to Billions: Scaling Women’s Empowerment Globally, focused on Mexico as a case example. The goals of the research were to identify the challenges that corporations face when trying to buy from Mexican businesswomen, and potential solutions for circumventing these challenges.

The research produced several key findings:

  • More attention needs to be paid to the difficulties of finding women suppliers internationally and how more women suppliers can be generated.
  • Distinct characteristics of businesswomen exist that organizations can use to identify women suppliers in emerging economies.
  • Businesswomen in emerging economies face significant roadblocks. Experts have identified solutions for corporations to help circumvent these barriers.

Leading companies that care about women’s economic empowerment are aware of the great opportunities and challenges that sourcing from women suppliers entail. At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, we hope that our research will help global companies to expand their base of consumers and productive workers, while improving the lives of women and their families globally.