RFAQ: participating in economic growth

The CEO of the Réseau des femmes d'affaires du Québec (RFAQ) is feverish on the eve of the presentation of one of the group's flagship events, Heading for Success.

RFAQ: participating in economic growth

The CEO of the Réseau des femmes d'affaires du Québec (RFAQ) is feverish on the eve of the presentation of one of the group's flagship events, Heading for Success.

Ruth Vachon and her team will welcome over 25 large companies interested in meeting with women-owned SMEs to increase their local sourcing.

The objective: to create new partnerships between these entrepreneurs and the principals to increase their business development.

“Last year, women entrepreneurs were able to land contracts of up to $1 million,” says Ruth Vachon.

The event, which is in its 9th edition, takes place over three days, from June 14 to 16. Presented in virtual format for two years, due to the pandemic, it will be in hybrid mode this year with a day of in-person conferences.

“Online dating is here to stay,” says Ms. Vachon. By force of circumstances, we discovered a winning recipe. The virtual mode is much more effective for organizing round tables with buyers. We can accommodate more, which allowed us to create more than 1000 meshes last year, compared to 400 previously. »

Focus on buying local

The major participating corporations operate in diverse sectors. Among them are Accenture, Air Transat, Bell, Ville de Laval, Metro, L'Oréal, to name a few. However, they have one thing in common: they want to diversify their supply chains by promoting local purchasing.

“They also want to contribute to the growth of SMEs for which it is not always easy to solicit new contracts. This is where we come in, explains Ruth Vachon. We knock on the doors of these work providers, telling them that we can introduce them to companies that have the potential to help them diversify their supplies. »

Accelerate recovery

To help businesses increase their revenues, the RFAQ has also set up the Accelerate Recovery program, whose objective is to connect 500 women-owned businesses to 105 medium and large corporations by 2024.

Through the RFAQ platform equipped with artificial intelligence, entrepreneurs can promote their products and services and thus access public calls for tenders from national and international companies.

The tool, which was developed in collaboration with the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), has already made it possible to establish purchase commitments amounting to $129 million from just four large companies.

“Initially, we estimated an economic impact of $13 million, an amount that we have greatly exceeded in just six months since the launch of the program,” rejoices Ruth Vachon.

"It's a sign that these clients want to diversify their suppliers more than we thought. With this program, we help them identify them. It’s pure mesh,” she adds.

The RFAQ also helps to break down certain barriers so that entrepreneurs have the idea of ​​doing business with large companies.

"It's too big for me. " " I am not ready. These are excuses that Ruth Vachon has often heard from the mouths of entrepreneurs.

“We help them build their confidence and realize that it is doable,” explains the CEO. It even happens that alliances are created between two or three SMEs to meet the needs of the same new client. Between them, they help to increase the profitability of their business and make it grow. »

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