Women-owned companies get 1% of public procurement

Women-owned companies represent only 1% of public procurement, revealed a report released by the International Trade Center (ITC) produced by the Chamber of Exporters of the Argentine Republic (CERA).

In developed countries, public procurement represents almost 15% of gross domestic product; in some developing countries, this figure can reach 40 percent.

“It is shocking that women-owned businesses account for just 1% of this crucial sector,” the report highlights.

Including more women-owned businesses in public procurement processes can economically empower women and benefit governments.

The report includes a practical suggestion guide for policymakers in government institutions and contracting entities to design and implement a pro-women-owned business contracting program.

When competing in public tenders, women-owned businesses face six barriers:

  1. Insufficient national legislation and policies.
  2. Inadequate bid design.
  3. Excessive requirements.
  4. Poor government practices.
  5. Lack of information.
  6. Limited capacity.

Women-owned companies

Policy makers and procuring entities can take measures that apply specifically to each barrier.

These are part of the steps to empower women-owned businesses through public procurement.


Women-owned businesses often cite a lack of information on opportunities and requirements, complex procedures, and stringent financial and qualification requirements as obstacles to winning public tenders.

But governments have a responsibility. They can act as buyers and promoters of greater participation of women in public procurement.

Governments can increase the proportion of women in direct and indirect contracting and create supplier diversity by considering options such as minimum targets, outsourcing plans, and initiatives focused on skills development.

Equally important, they can take the lead in showing why investing in women-owned businesses through public procurement makes business sense.

This publication guides policymakers, procurement officials, and other stakeholders on ways they can help improve the participation of women in public procurement.

It provides a step-by-step guide to assessing the status of your inclusion in public procurement, identifying barriers that women face, understanding policy options and recruitment opportunities, designing a roadmap, and monitoring progress in time.

It also presents case studies from three countries at the forefront of this initiative —Chile, Gambia, and Nigeria— that are finding solutions to these challenges.


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