Ethical Enterprise Conference Speaker Insights with Mrinalini Venkatachalam

 

Founder and Director of Moral Fairground Susanna Bevilacqua interviews Mrinalini Venkatachalam the Regional Director for South-East Asia and Oceania at WEConnect International, a global non-profit network that works to generate market-access opportunity for women’s business enterprises in over 100 countries on women in the current and new economy post COVID.

Q. Mrinalini – can you tell us a bit about yourself and your passion about working with social enterprises focusing on women? – We would love to get a personal view here (family, cultural background, etc)

My parents weren’t well to do, but they did everything they could do to make sure that I got a good education and a good foundation in life. It irks me that others don’t get the same opportunities and I want to move that needle in my lifetime.

Women build economies. Studies show that women reinvest up to 90% of their incomes back into their families and communities, compared to just 30-40% by men. Investing firm First Round Capital found that its female-founded companies performed 63% better than those with male founders across a 10-year period. Yet only 3% of global VC funding and 1% of global procurement spend goes to women-owned companies. That’s ridiculous in 2020!

Women build economies. Studies show that women reinvest up to 90% of their incomes back into their families and communities, compared to just 30-40% by men.

Q. How does a women based enterprise become part of your network, what are the requirements and what is the process?

The minimum requirement to be a part of our network is that the organization needs to be minimum 51% owned, managed and controlled by one or more women. It’s free to register at https://weconnectinternational.org/register-your-business/. You can also pay to certify your business as women owned (currently recognized by 104 global corporations, a growing number) at https://weconnectinternational.org/weconnect-international-certification/

Q. What is the social enterprise scene globally from what you can see?

Social enterprises are the new future as more government and corporations commit to investing in and driving social impact through their procurement and other operations.

Q. We Connect International, connects small scale supplier enterprises to corporates, how do you prepare small scale suppliers to work and navigate through the corporate world.

Capacity building is a key part of the work that WEConnect International does in the region. An example of this is the upcoming “Financing Your Growing Business” bootcamp in partnership with Moody’s corporation that we will be running in Australia (albeit virtually given the circumstances) on October 21st and 22nd. The training program targets growth-oriented women-owned businesses who are looking to scale their enterprises and require additional capital to grow. Topics covered will include the importance of creditworthiness, understanding financial statements, goal planning, sources of financing, enterprise valuation, risk and due diligence and creating a stellar pitch deck. Women business owners who would like to participate can apply by 9th October at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/RQMMY2S

Q. What impact has COVID had on small scale suppliers given that corporate have cut costs and what do you envisage for the future?

We conducted research with women business owners worldwide and 87% indicated that they were adversely impacted by Covid-19. But these awesome entrepreneurs are also very resilient. 34% identified new business opportunities, 37% are growing an area of business in response to local or global needs and 54% have already identified and cut unnecessary expenses to ensure they survive the economic downturn.

Q. What does Re-think mean to you?

Rethink your procurement spend, diversify by buying more from women-owned businesses. It only benefits your bottom line to identify the strongest supplier, irrespective of their gender and makes your supply chain more resilient in the face of pandemics like Covid-19.

Q. Reshaping the Impact Economy, what do you envisage?

If women and men participate equally in the economy, global GDP could rise by $28 trillion. In the aftermath of the pandemic (and otherwise), this seems like too good an opportunity to pass up!

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