WEConnect International summit on empowering inclusion and advancing sustainable value chains promotes U.S.- India collaboration

WEConnect International summit on empowering inclusion and advancing sustainable value chains promotes U.S.- India collaboration

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New Delhi (India), March 20:  WEConnect International, with support from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, organized a  series of events in India on “Empowering Inclusion–Advancing Sustainable Value Chains Summits” .  The Summits were held in New Delhi, Hyderabad and Bengaluru, bringing together government officials, corporate leaders, women business owners, and experts on supplier diversity and inclusion.

Through a series of panel discussions and round table consultations, these Summits provided a forum for dialogue and collaboration among key stakeholders. The goal is to enhance the supplier diversity and inclusion ecosystem by fostering inclusive value chains. The Summits also seeks to create a synergistic platform connecting the procurement needs of leading corporations with the supply capabilities of women-owned businesses.

The Summit series showcased the Indian Government’s key deliberations on inclusive supply chains and supplier diversity and inclusion. Some of the prominent speakers included Ms. Mercy Epao, Joint Secretary of Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Ms. Gadwal Vijayalakshmi, Mayor, Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation and Dr. Shalini Rajneesh, Additional Chief Secretary & Development Commissioner, Government of Karnataka. The dignitaries exchanged views on the varied dynamics of empowering inclusion and advancing sustainable value chains in India.

Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S Embassy in India, Patricia Lacina, and U.S. Consulate General Chennai, Christopher W Hodges, also delivered keynote addresses on women’s economic empowerment and inclusive growth. The other sessions explored topics such as Business Resilience emphasizing business growth, Supplier Diversity & Inclusion, and gender inclusive sourcing.  Representatives from leading corporations such as Amazon, Accenture, AstraZeneca, Apollo, Bayer, Ericsson, IBM, Intel, Infosys, Moody’s, Sanofi, SAP, TATA Communications, Tech Mahindra, TCS and UPS, joined local and multinational women business networks and thought leaders in these discussions.

“I am happy to be part of the WEConnect International deliberation on empowering women entrepreneurs and striving towards sustainable development goals by making the value chain inclusive and resilient, said Dr. Shalini Rajneesh, Additional Chief Secretary & Development Commissioner, Government of Karnataka. Empowering women entrepreneurs is not only a matter of social justice, but also a smart economic strategy.  By creating opportunities for women to participate in the supply chains of leading corporations, we can foster inclusive and sustainable growth for our country.”

Recent studies underscore the significance of women’s entrepreneurship in India, revealing a 20% increase in the number of women-owned businesses over the past five years, which outpaces the 10% growth observed in businesses owned by men.

According to the World Bank’s latest India Development Update (IDU), India continues to show resilience against the backdrop of a challenging global environment. India’s thriving growth across pivotal sectors such as IT, Pharma, and Semiconductors is poised for unprecedented expansion. There is an urgent need to integrate a strategy for inclusivity into the very fabric of this trajectory.

The Summit was designed to facilitate a discussion on the business rationale for multi-dimensional aspects of inclusive sourcing and equitable procurement practices in these sectors. The exchanges and brainstorming aim to explore perspectives on how governments and corporations can strategically leverage business policies and harness their purchasing power to cultivate business environments with more competitive, inclusive, innovative and sustainable value chains.

To reinforce the purpose of the Summit, Patricia Lacina, the Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy to India said: “The United States continues to prioritize efforts to strengthen women’s economic security and empowerment. We recognize an investment in women and girls today is a bid for a more prosperous tomorrow. The need for partnerships is stronger now than ever before, and everyone plays a unique and crucial role. Private companies in India can expand opportunities by mandating standards for including women employees and women-owned companies through their investments and supply chains. U.S. investors can support key industries through their contribution to research and development, training, and the development of local managers.”

Organizations can benefit greatly from investing in diverse suppliers. This requires a strong commitment from organizational leaders and a shared understanding among all stakeholders, both internal and external. Supplier diversity & inclusion is not only necessary, but also advantageous and strategic for the society and the economy because it maximizes the number of innovative solutions available.

The roundtable on Supplier Diversity & Inclusion moderated by CEO & Co-Founder of WEConnect International, Elizabeth A. Vazquez, convened over 100 top leaders from corporations, government and non-government institutions in all three cities.  The event has raised awareness about the importance of gender-inclusive sourcing, conversations on enabling policies and discussing the challenges and opportunities for women to grow businesses, create jobs and deliver solutions to problems.

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