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WEConnect International in South Africa held its third Matchmaking session this year on 15 August 2017, hosted by EY, Sandton, with corporate representatives who are active members of the Advisory Council. They were Jacoba Schutte, Chair: Advisory Council of WEConnect International in South Africa, and EY’s Products and Services Procurement Lead, South Africa; Lorenzo Bell, EY’s Global Diversity & Inclusiveness Procurement Manager;  Lindsay Burns, Ingersoll Rand’s Operations Administrator; Grace Seeme, Accenture ESDP Lead; Nirvana Govender, UPS’s Chief Financial Officer; Lynn Turnbull, Sodexo’s Supply Chain Manager; Bree McClure, Sodexo’s Supply Chain Officer; and Jacob Pretorius, Procurement Manager from Johnson & Johnson (JnJ).

First up were the corporate representatives who shared a number of opportunities available for certified women’s business enterprises (WBEs). Forty-three WBEs then gave their one-minute business pitches. The pitch serves not as a sales pitch, but an opportunity to remind corporates and WBEs in attendance of business offerings and successes, and give a personal introduction to those hearing about the business for the first time. It is an opening for deeper dialogue about business offerings during the matchmaking session with the corporates.

Services offered by WBEs now represent an expanding range of sectors and services, including new entrants from manufacturing, project management, and cleaning services. The event also offered a great networking opportunity for the women business owners. Three additional tables were added for HR and contract management; legal services; and strategy. Each table had two corporates engaging with the WBE group. Many new opportunities were discussed, advice given, and collaboration possibilities raised.

“Pitching to corporates is a great way for women’s business enterprises to catch their attention,” said Jacob Pretorius, Procurement Manager from Johnson & Johnson. “It was amazing to see how innovative and persuasive they were!”