This is part II of three. A series of articles offering a comprehensive review of minority and women business certification and the supplier diversity programs.
- Definition – Provides a basic definition and high-level understanding of the Minority & Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) certification.
- Resources – Identify available resources by business advocacy organizations and government programs designed to advocate for Minority & Women Business Enterprises.
- Strategy – Suggest strategy to leverage the Supplier Diversity program and MWBE certification to expand business development opportunities.
Supplier Diversity programs are proactive business programs that allows corporations and various level of government agencies to take advantage one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. economy. Within the Supplier Diversity programs, government and corporate procurement office set specific target and goals for utilizing minority & women business in their supply chains. They also established certification processes to ensure the suppliers meet their requirements to be destinated as minority or women owned businesses. Both the government agencies and corporations work with non-profit organizations and advocacy government agencies to certify, educate, and support certified minority and women business enterprise to ensure their success of obtaining contracts and sustaining their business operations.
Minorities and women business certification is a subset of what is generally owned as “Diverse Business Enterprise Certification” that also include veterans, people with disabilities, or other business considered to be ‘disadvantage’. This summary will focus only on Minority and Women Business Enterprises.
This article provides a summary of available resources at all levels to support minority business enterprises.
Understand the Policies and certification processes for the various level of government and private corporations may be the first step in obtaining sustainable contract and business relationship. Fortunately, there are a multiple level of support organizations that are available for support the business development effort for minority and women businesses with their target customers in the supplier diversity space:
- Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) – U.S. Department of Commerce
The Minority Business Development Agency is the only Federal Government agency that is dedicated to support the growth of ethnic minority businesses. It’s technical assistance services in the area of access to capital, access to contracts, and access to global markets are provided via the MBDA Business Centers and MBDA Export Centers and Specialty Centers across United States. See www.mbda.govfor location nears you.
These centers are operated by mostly non-profit organizations such as the regional Minority Supplier Development Council, Universities, Chambers of Commerce, and minority serving advocacy organization. As an example, the Chicago MBDA Business Center and the Chicago MBDA Export Center is operated by the Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council through a competitive grant from MBDA.
- Small Business Administration (SBA)
SBA provides both on-line and in person technical assistance for Small Businesses in business planning, launch your business, managing and growing your businesses. Technical assistance services are mainly through the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) across the nation. (See americassbdc.org or sba.gov ) The SBDC provides access to working capital and contracts for Small Businesses.
SBA administers the Small Business Development Center Program via competitive grants to Universities, Chambers of Commerce, Business Assistance organizations such as the Women Business Centers, etc.
- Office of Small & Disadvantage Business Utilization (OSBDU)
Most Federal Government Agencies have an OSBDU office that provides a direct pipeline for Small and Diverse Business to doing business with the agencies and the following services: (e.g. See va.gov/osdbu for VA, osec.doc.gov/osdbu for Department of Commerce, etc.)
- Process & procedure for doing business with the agency
- Resources & Training
- Marketing and Networking Opportunities with procurement officers
- Acquisition and contracting support.
- Women Business Development Center
The Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) provides technical assistance to women owned business to support and accelerate business development and growth. They provide technical assistance and financial support debt/equity placement and direct lending, corporate and public sector procurement opportunities and Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) certification. (See wbdc.org)
This article provides a summary of for resource available minority and women businesses. See Part I for the policy and certification processes. Also, Part III suggests a strategy on how to leverage it to maximize business development opportunities.