Changing the Face of Entrepreneurship for Over 30 Years

As is our annual tradition, we’ve spent the past few months searching for WBEs Who Rock! Women business owners who exemplify passion and courage in the pursuit of their business success. And, when we asked you to nominate women who met those criteria, your response was, as usual, overwhelming.

After reviewing the nominations of so many extraordinary women and much discussion and debate, we awarded 11 women plus our three Spring cover features, Ranjini Poddar , Pegine Echevarria , and Georgia Richardson with the distinction of being WBEs Who Rock!

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Savvy companies recruit diverse talent. Sounds logical, right? So what happens when that doesn’t happen—when, as I like to say, “You don’t know what you don’t know”?

I’m going to share a story about executives at a Midwestern bank who didn’t know—didn’t realize, or understand, or admit to themselves—that their business wasn’t diverse, and what it took to make them aware.

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In September 1999, Hurricane Floyd threatened to rip the coast of Virginia apart, just as it had done earlier in North Carolina. The intensity of the Category 2 hurricane’s 104 mph winds and extreme rainfall caused $6 billion in property damage, more than $1 billion in farm losses, and 35 deaths in Eastern North Carolina. As the devastating storm roared toward Newport News, Virginia, where 21-year old Kaney O’Neill was stationed on the U.S. Navy’s USS Nimitz, she stood on her apartment balcony to get a glimpse of the approaching storm.

She never imagined that such a seemingly harmless act would forever alter her life.

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Like most businesses in the United States, the hospitality industry faces lots of changes today. Restaurant companies are rethinking their business models to deal with the rising cost of operations; private equity groups are bringing innovations into the business; and enhancements in technology are changing the way hotels and restaurants conduct training.

These changes spell opportunity for smart minority and women business enterprises. Restaurants, hotels, and other businesses in the hospitality industry are offering multiple avenues for minorities to get into business or to grow their current enterprises. Here are a few industry trends I hope can help readers identify an excellent business opportunity.

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Growing up in a single-parent household in Denver, Colorado, Marco Campos didn’t have much in the way of material things. But he had dreams—and the desire to not live paycheck-to-paycheck. He wanted to achieve something no one else in his family had achieved.

Campos’ first job, at age seven, was assisting his welder grandfather in the garage. There, he picked up a strong work ethic and learned valuable lessons—some good, some not—on how to run a business. After high school, he entered a field that’s underrepresented by minorities and women, pursuing an engineering degree at the University of Colorado–Boulder. Campos says he was intent on “making a good living immediately after graduation.”

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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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