Women-led businesses are currently underrepresented in public procurement awards. It is estimated that less than one percent of the $10 trillion spent annually on global public procurement is awarded to women-owned businesses.
There are different restrictions that explain this low participation of women-led companies in the awarding of public procurement contracts. Women-led small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) tend to have less access to credit, are less prepared to take advantage of digital technologies, have limited experience in participating in the public sector market, and have less knowledge about the requirements to carry out transactions with public entities.
As a result, encouraging the participation of women-led SMEs in public procurement processes can help promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. It can also have benefits for governments. It promotes promotes competition, as more companies can sell to governments allowing them to obtain greater “value for money” (more quality and better prices).
How to Identify Women-Led Businesses in Public Procurement
One of the main obstacles faced by governments in promoting gender equality through public procurement is the identification of companies that are owned by women. That is why several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) have decided to create programs to identify and certify companies owned and managed by women, which have become known as Women-Owned Business Certification Programs (Sello Empresa Mujer in Spanish) programs.
These programs allow public procurement agencies to officially certify that a company is owned by women. Such certification is normally granted when a company enters its information in the supplier registry maintained by the agency administering the procurement system, a necessary step to participate in the public procurement market in most countries.
Having this information is essential to promote the participation of women-led businesses in public procurement, as it allows the agency to focus the dissemination of business opportunities in the public sector, train companies on how to participate in procurement processes and support programs that are generated, and better evaluate the effectiveness of the programs. Read more…
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Leslie Harper - Trinidad Inostroza