In Their Own Words: An Interview with WEConnect International, Winner of the 2013 GSC 3S Empowered Woman Award
Interview with WEConnect International CEO and Co-Founder, Elizabeth A. Vazquez
1. Can you describe how the concept of WEConnect International came about?
WEConnect International’s mission is to identify, educate, and promote women-owned businesses globally through a unique certification process. This innovative concept was the brainchild of a group of members of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. They created a Global Committee to develop a strategy to support women entrepreneurs based outside the US. WEConnect International was launched as a result of this effort.
2. What pushed WEConnect International towards pursuing goals in sustainable and socially responsible practices, as opposed to a strictly profit-based model?
WEConnect International is committed to the proposition that socially responsible business practices and profits are integrally linked. We are an educational organization that promotes best practices on two fronts. We assist women business owners to develop competitive products and services, and we encourage them to build solutions that are also good for the environment and society. Additionally, we help corporations understand the value offered by these women business owners and we offer tools to make it easier for corporations to buy from women.
3. Did you, at any point, come to regret that your company is following in this path?
The leadership and team of WEConnect International fully rally behind the mission to promote global supplier diversity and inclusion as a way to grow SMEs and create jobs in our target markets. The results we have obtained so far serve to reconfirm that we are on the right path.
4. What do you think sets you apart –as far as business model is concerned- from other companies in your sector?
WEConnect International is a unique organization. We are the only group working at the global level to build a database of self-registered and certified women-owned businesses that want to compete and grow.
5. To what would you credit the success of WEConnect International practicing socially responsible business?
The largest and most progressive corporations in the world play a key role in advancing WEConnect International’s mission. We rely heavily on our global and local partners to support our work and maximize our impact.
6. What do you think can be done to make the business world aware of the need for corporate social responsibility?
Great progress has been made already, but much work remains to be done. A substantial component of our work at WEConnect International involves reaching out to local, regional and global corporate citizens to raise awareness on the specific advantages of buying from women business owners, such as unique business solutions, powerful leadership, new job opportunities and overall social benefits.