The Sweet Taste of Success
You’ve heard a lot about the Afghan Women First Business Matchmaking Event that we organized in support of International Women’s Day. This is partly due to the fact that although PDT provides assistance or support to vendor outreach events almost monthly, it’s rare that we initiate and organize events singlehandedly, from the event conception to execution.
The idea for the Afghan Woman First event came about because we wanted to raise the profile of Afghan woman-owned businesses, showing members of the procurement community that capable local woman-owned companies were able to provide goods and services in high-impact sectors such as construction and logistics. The resulting event not only allowed Afghan woman-owned companies to networking directly with buyers, it allowed participants to walk away with those buyer’s current contracting opportunities.
We polled the vendors participants on the day of the event, and all of them indicated that they had made connections to buyers and other organizations with investment opportunities. Most of the vendors also said that they had learned about contracting opportunities that they would bid on. Great feedback, but did the rhetoric turn into results?
I’m happy to say that they did. About six weeks after the event, we surveyed buyers and found that the networking paid off. Three contracts worth over $55,000 were awarded, and countless other contracts are likely to result from the follow-up buyers have done with vendors.
What’s even more encouraging is that many buyers have taken steps to make their procurement processes more inclusive of buyers. Some now email new business opportunities directly to the vendors they met the day of the event, others have built a database of woman-owned businesses to better track and utilize those vendors. Some buyers have even considered setting aside contracts for Afghan woman-owned vendors, or sole sourcing directly from them! So the impact of the event goes far beyond the short-term benefits from the contracts facilitated. The event led to procedural changes for many buyers, which will lead to contracting opportunities for the businesses in the immediate future as well as long-term. That’s enough for me to conclude that the event was a success!