For minority and women supplier diversity business entrepreneurs

Change is inevitable and the changes we have embraced in 2014 have been major. 

In June, we celebrated our 30th Anniversary with a kickoff event in Philadelphia at the WBENC National Conference & Business Fair. One of the highlights of this event a new editorial feature called "WBEs Who Rock" (and later, "MBEs Who Rock") and the unveiling of our new cover design. We will once again celebrate some rockin' entrepreneurs with the 2nd Annual "WBEs Who Rock" and 30th Anniversary Wrap Party during the WBENC National Conference in Austin, Texas, in June.  Contact us at anniversary30@mbemag.com for sponsorship information.

After 30 years, we made the switch from our signature painting to photographs. Based on the favorable commentary, we have made a move in the right direction, and we're not done yet! In addition to a new cover design, we expanded our discussion of global issues to include not only Canada, but the U.K., Australia, Nigeria and South Africa. We will continue to explore issues of diversity and inclusion in the international arena in 2015 and beyond. We have expanded our reach with an increased presence on social media via Twitter and Facebook. And, we also expanded our media offerings to include video and other digital media options. We encourage you to email us at advertising@mbemag.com to learn more.

Finally, we ended the year on an extremely high note with the culmination of our anniversary celebration during National Minority Supplier Diversity Council (NMSDC)'s annual conference. Over 500 guest and dignitaries joined us at SeaWorld in Orlando, FL to help us celebrate our last 30 years and launch us into the next 30. Check out our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/mbemag, to see all the fun.

And, what better time to receive recognition by NMSDC as the 2014 Supplier of the Year in Class 1?  

We couldn't have done it without the support of our many advertisers.  

As we move into the future, we are excited about the direction in which we are headed and the information we will be providing. You can expect cutting-edge new features that notches up the discussion about diversity and inclusion; and the continued commitment to excellence and reporting on issues critical to the growth and development of minority- and women-owned firms.

We have made many strides over the last 30 years, but there is still a lot that needs to be done as evidenced by the continued challenges to diversity and inclusion in the courts, in the boardroom, and on the streets.  

We will keep on fighting the good fight on behalf of economic equality for all communities, and we hope you will join us.

On behalf of Team MBE, I wish you and your families a safe and happy Holiday Season and a Prosperous New Year!

Cheers!

 

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From Florida to Ferguson to New York City to Cleveland and other points throughout the country, we are being forced to confront the prevailing issue of race in our country. The images and voices of those involved in nonviolent protests and die-ins have filled our television screens and flooded our social media networks for the past few months. No matter where you stand on the issues of who is right and who is wrong, these incidents have thrust this country's racial problems to the forefront of everyone's mind. Conversations at water coolers, corner stores, living rooms, and most notably social media have all been about our problems.

While discussing racism and it's ugly siblings, unconscious biases and prejudice, can often be uncomfortable, it is necessary. In order for change to occur, we must be willing to talk about the issues. It is only in discussing them openly that we can come to understand our problems and, eventually, develop solutions. While these may seem like social issues and not boardroom issues, similar disparities in business are just as prevalent. There are no end of evidence to support the facts of gender and racial inequality in the boardrooms and on the payroll.

At MBE, we think it's important to continue the conversation and that's why we've launched a new section, “Real Talk”, which is designed to give voice to those topics and ideas that few are willing to address in today’s politically correct world. We hope to propose solutions that each one of us can take part in making a reality. We have also introduced the “State of the State” to give a snapshot of the environment in which our successful cover features do business.

We have always made it our mission to maintain a strong commitment to economic parity as a lasting solution to the ills of poverty and discrimination. We do that by providing a forum for dialogue that will move our world closer to that goal. We invite you to engage with us and let us know your thoughts on the thought-provoking articles within these pages. Cheers!

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In this, our 30th Anniversary issue, I thought it appropriate that we hear from our founder. So I asked Ginger Conrad to once again grace the Publisher's Page with her thoughts. -Barbara Oliver

 

I am seldom at a loss for words, but I now find myself wondering what of value I might say after a 3-year absence from the day-to-day concerns of publishing. How do I express what 30 years of this magazine has meant to its readers? Perhaps a look back to the beginning might be in order. 

Equal opportunity for minority and women business owners was a relatively new idea in 1984 when I decided that starting a business would be easier than looking for a new job. After doing a bit of research, it was clear that the issues confronting businesses that were government contractors, large and small, were not going to disappear without some "affirmative" action on their part. This was a topic that I thought was worthy of discussion in the press-hence, MBE magazine. 

As with any path in life, it was often a bumpy road. But we were committed to supporting the cause of equal opportunity for small, minority- and woman-owned businesses. Following the lead of Congressman Parren Mitchell and other stellar leaders, progress was made, not mile by mile, but inch by inch. Ralph Thomas, Anthony Robinson, Hank Wilfong, Harriet Michel, Susan Phillips Bari, and many others stepped into the fray and kept the momentum going. It was an exciting time and we are happy to have been a part of it. 

Yet we wonder if the zeal has diminished. Have we become complacent? Who continues to fight for the cause? Who are our leaders of tomorrow? Who will answer the call to action?  

It is my fervent hope that every reader stands up and says, "I will. I will do my part. I will do my best to meet the challenges and carry the torch for minority- and woman-owned businesses." 

I am sure that everyone on the staff of MBE magazine will work to continue to tell the stories, report the progress, and discuss the issues. MBE will be around until the job is done…whenever that is…as long as it takes. For now, on this 30th Anniversary, we will salute the past, treasure the memories, and keep marching forward.

 

--Ginger Conrad

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This past February, I was privileged to be part of a small group of thought leaders, strategic partners, and minority businesses which were convened by the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) for its 2015 MBDA Stakeholder Summit in Washington, D.C. The Summit, entitled “Elevating the Narrative and Direction of Minority Businesses as a National Economic Priority,” was designed to raise the level of awareness, foster discussion, and develop a blueprint to help drive growth and global competitiveness for the nation’s minority business community.

While I’m not sure that developing a blueprint to drive growth could have been accomplished in one day, we certainly had spirited discussions that highlighted some of the needs of the minority business community. As a group, we all agreed that access to capital plays a huge role in the ability of minority businesses to scale up. So what to do? External access in most cases depends on the personal credit of the owner(s) but there are opportunities available via Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and other small independent organizations in pockets around the country. The challenge is to educate these businesses about these access points and how they can prepare themselves to take advantage of opportunities these points represent.

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker’s remarks to the group at the Summit highlight a stark reality:
“[the MBDA] faces shrinking budgets, growing demands on its resources, the demand for better data and faster technical assistance, and the need to open up more markets domestically and abroad for minority firms.” She emphasized that it is incumbent on all of us who are in the know to “work together to ensure that everyone advocating for [minority business enterprises]—from MBDA to your organizations to your colleagues across the country—is adapting to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”

Interestingly, that same week, I began a 10-week course of study in the 3rd National Cohort of the Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses (10KSB) program at Babson College. I was not quite sure what I had gotten myself into except that I had heard good things about this program and wanted to take advantage of the opportunity it presented to grow our business. Four weeks in and I am feeling the pressure but also learning what I didn’t know and how to put it into action. There are several 10KSB programs in local markets around the country run by community colleges. I encourage you to apply or talk with a CDFI to learn more about what it takes for you to access the capital you need to grow your business to scale.

These pathways to capital are not the only options available to minority and women business enterprises wanting to scale up, so MBE magazine will do our part to educate you about where to find these options. If you know of any who fit this profile, send an email to mbewbe@mbemag.com with their contact information and we will share it via our online Resource Page on www.mbemag.com.

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Wow! What a month June turned out to be! We debuted a new look on the cover of our May/June issue and the response was nothing short of amazing. Everyone was very complimentary. 

Then, we had a rocking 30th Anniversary Launch Reception during the WBENC National Conference and Business Fair in Philadelphia. Our thanks once again to co-host Mortgage Staffing Solutions, entertainment sponsor, Grady Health System, and WBENC.

 

Out with the old…

This response to our new look and subsequent conversations prompted us to make the decision to use photographs for our covers going forward-beginning with our September/October 30th Anniversary Issue. The painting of a minority and/or woman business on our front cover has been one of our signatures for the last 30 years but it is time to make a change.

We have had several artists over the years but the most recent, Robert Sherrill, has been with us for the last 10 years. While in high school, Robert competed in regional shows and did scenic backdrops for school plays. He got a job as a technical draftsman following graduation. He then entered Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, to further his perspective. Painting was where Robert's passion lay, so he began having art shows anywhere possible-antique stores, cafes, etc. Then some commercial opportunities revealed themselves in the form of designer and art director. As he said, "It was fun and prosperous, but not painting." Now, he paints upon commission, figures, landscapes and urban areas.

This issue's cover portrait is Robert's last for MBE magazine and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors, wherever they may take him. I encourage any of our cover features since 2004, who have not already done so, to reach out to him at rsherrill@earthlink.net, find out how you may purchase your portrait. Thank you, Robert. You have been a true asset to our publication.

Please visit our Pinterest page, www.pinterest.com/mbemag, to view our cover portraits from the past 30 years. And, be sure to keep an eye out for your invitation to our 30th Anniversary Experience at SeaWorld Orlando on November 1.

Cheers!

 

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MBE Resource Center

MBE's Business Opportunities resource covers business-related financing, consulting, and programs available for the Supplier Diversity community and M/WBEs. Updated monthly.

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MBE's M/WBE Resource Directory is a comprehensive list of resource organizations (including links) that support the Supplier Diversity community and M/WBEs.

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Refer to MBE's Acronyms & Terminology list for frequently used acronyms and terminology and an overview of the major organizations supporting the Supplier Diversity community.

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