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From the Top: Supplier Diversity Collaborative Part II

Last week I introduced the Supplier Diversity Collaborative plan to increase business receipts for Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs) in the Greater Memphis region. We all know the glaring numbers from the City/County disparity study – African American companies received only 0.84% of all business receipts in 2014. However, we were also dealing with very negative views from both the MWBE and corporate communities.
MWBEs find the system really opaque with complex processes that are both expensive and time consuming. As a results, there is a real lack of trust – and rightly so. On the other hand, the current certification system has the private sector believing there is low availability of MWBEs and that the ones that exist do not have the capacity or do not represent the industry for their current contracts. We plan to break down the perceptions above with the following recommendations:
1. Memphis/Shelby County Business Opportunities (MSBO) Website
A comprehensive portal of local small and minority businesses will be crucial to the success of this plan. Once implemented, a minority or women-owned business will be able to register their company and receive automatic notifications when bids from both public and private organizations are placed. The portal will serve as a comprehensive database for all certified local MWBE businesses to make it easy for private companies and faith organizations to access a list of available MWBEs and provide bids for needed services. MWBEs will also be able to find links to business development service provides, such as the Black Business Association, the Mid-South Minority Business Continuum and many more.

2. Mentor-Protégé Program
The Mentor-Protégé program is designed to educate, motivate and encourage large business prime contractors – such as members of the Chairman’s Circle – to provide mutually beneficial developmental assistance to local small, minority and women-owned businesses. The idea is to develop these protégé companies and foster long-term business relationships. The mentor-protégé relationship could manifest itself in a variety of ways, whether that’s introducing the small business owner to key relationships or providing strategic advice on topics like finances or employment management. The possibilities are endless.

3. Other Recommendations
The Supplier Diversity Collaborative also recommended that public entities, private businesses and faith-based organizations that are committed to a fully participatory economy to move quickly to establish a “Universal Certification Acceptance” paradigm, so that MWBEs are no longer required to obtain several local certifications.
In addition, we plan for all existing certifying agencies to come together to develop baseline requirements for a universal certification application to greatly simplify the process for MWBEs.

We know these developments will move us toward a business environment that is conducive for minority, women and veteran-owned business growth and will create opportunities to increase contract awards, sales and receipts for our MWBEs.
LINK: To learn more about the Supplier Diversity Collaborative, check out this cover story in our latest issue of Memphis Crossroads.

Posted: 6/30/2016 7:30:00 AM | with 0 comments

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