Minority Business Opportunities

Minority Business Opportunities

The IBM Corp. and the Department of Defense (DoD) are the top organizations when it comes to providing minority business opportunities, according to a 2002 survey conducted by Div2000.com, a resource portal for small businesses and large organizational buyers such as corporations and government agencies.

Produced and sponsored by Computer Consulting Associates International Inc. (CCAii), an information technology professional services firm in Southport, Connecticut, the rankings were tabulated from an online survey where 150,000 minority business owners cast a single vote for the corporation or government agency they felt offered the best opportunities for minority-owned firms. The lists are comprised of Fortune 500 companies and government agencies.

Also on the 2002 Div2000.com list are Wal-Mart Stores, Lockheed Martin, SBC Communications, and Boeing. Government agencies included the Small Business Administration, Minority Business Development Agency, U.S. Postal Service, and the Department of Transportation. The Department of Defense came in at No. 1 on the 2001 ranking, while IBM ranked No. 6.

One survey participant who works solely with large corporations is Wayne McCray, president of Axiom Consulting L.L.C. in Endicott, New York. McCray says he’s been working with companies like IBM since he opened the doors to his 90-employee, managed procurement services firm in November 2001.

McCray says he’s not surprised by IBM’s ranking, and credits Big Blue with helping Axiom get its foot in the door at other Fortune 500 firms. In early 2002, McCray visited with one of IBM’s procurement managers and simply “registered as a supplier.” Within a few months, IBM and Axiom formed a strategic partnership to market IBM-Axiom joint services to other companies, primarily black businesses.

“We’ve been selling to Fortune 500 companies right out of the box and IBM has been exceptionally good,” says McCray, adding that large corporations seek out vendors with solid management teams, solid business plans, and a large presence. McCray says having a business partner like IBM is extremely helpful in securing large contracts. McCray’s next project: getting his foot in the door at government agencies. For that he’ll be registering for his 8(a) certification and paying close attention to those agencies that rank high on Div2000.com’s government ranking.

The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), headquartered in Washington, D.C., is one such agency. MBDA aids the establishment and growth of minority-owned businesses in America, offering business counseling and program services. In 2001, MBDA’s 35 nationwide business development centers helped minority-owned firms find $350 million in procurement opportunities, according to Selma Sierra, assistant director of operations for the agency.

Sierra says MBDA’s third-place ranking on the Div2000.com list validates the impact the agency is having on the minority-owned businesses it was created to serve. “We’re definitely making an impact and this proves it,” says Sierra, who advises minority-owned businesses to tap into other lists like the ones on Div2000.com to ferret out opportunities with companies where other minority-owned firms have already succeeded. “Through a list like this, minority-owned businesses can easily find out which entities can offer them the best opportunities and go after them.”

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