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$1.5 billion pledged to women-owned businesses

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 27th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

"Smart companies make strategic investments in women," Elizabeth Vazquez, CEO and co-founder of WeConnect International said in a statement. To this end, the non-governmental organization Vital Voices Global Partnership has pledged $1.5 billion to women-owned businesses worldwide. The pledge may be one of the largest commitments to be made at this year's Clinton Global Initiative, or CGI, founded in 2005 by former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Vital Voices Global Partnership, is the largest international NGO to provide training and support to women leaders. The $1.5 billion pledge will be spread out over five years to advance and scale-up the participation of small and medium-sized women-owned businesses in the international community.

The CGI brings together global leaders every year to create and implement solutions to the world's most pressing challenges.

"Vital Voices has had a commitment every single year since the very first CGI and this is the biggest commitment with the most partners that we've ever engaged in," Alyse Nelson, president and CEO of Vital Voices says.

"The commitment is really just the beginning, now the work is getting underway," Nelson added, whose organization was established in 1997 to promote the advancement of women by then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and former Secretary of State Madeline Albright.

To successfully gauge the impact of the partners' investments, Vital Voices will work with WEConnect International, which provides business education, certification, and connections to companies based outside the United States that are at least 51 percent owned, managed and controlled by one or more women.

The pledge could mean that some 15,000 non-U.S.-based women-owned firms could benefit from new training and help with market entry.

"One of the things we've seen in our work is that there is a significant amount of development dollars helping women start small and medium business enterprises," Nelson says. "Yet they only represent one percent of sales to multinational corporations in the global supply chain."

Each of the commitment partners first will review their vendor lists for the number of women-owned firms they currently list as business partners.

Some contracts may be scaled up. In others, they may enlist new women-owned businesses as suppliers. WeConnect will be able to help through a process by which it vets and certifies women-owned businesses that are ready to be in the global supply chain.

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