Changing the Face of Entrepreneurship for Over 30 Years


Barbara OliverRecently I was reminded of a BBC sitcom we used to watch when I was young, called “Love thy Neighbor.” The protagonist was a nosy woman who had a long-suffering husband. She was forever watching her neighbors and speculating about every little thing that seemed, to her, remotely interesting. Of course, it was always much ado about nothing. Still, her snooping went on. Truth-be-told, she learned a lot about her neighbors, but I’m not sure how much that helped her, if that was the point at all.

Now I’m not advocating snooping, in the true sense of the word, but I did a little of my own on our neighbors to the north this past April when I attended the Canadian Aboriginal Minority Supplier Council’s procurement fair. Unlike the busybody of that old show, however, I came armed with not just curiosity, but questions as well.
Is the idea of supplier diversity being accepted by Canadian majority-owned corporations? How are the lessons learned here in theU.S. helping to shape the movement inCanada? What are the barriers that advocates face in promoting supplier diversity inCanada? Is this an environment whereU.S. minority- and woman-owned businesses can build partnerships with Canadian companies, large and small, and grow their businesses?

The answer to the majority of these questions, curiously enough, was: “It depends.” Depends on what you ask? Actually, its whom you talk to. The corporations that seem to be embracing the strategy are the same ones that have a strong initiative here in the U.S. Conversations overheard suggest that the Canadian majority-owned corporations have the same tunnel-vision that many in the U.S. had when this effort began over 40 years ago.
The aboriginal- and ethnic minority-owned businesses have great hopes, but the word has not been widely spread due to the limited reach of the Council.  There is yet a long way to go.

What about certified minority- woman-owned businesses in theU.S.? Is there opportunity for growth in reaching across the border? I say, “Yes!” In fact, if your corporate customer is there, you should be there too. Don’t wait for the road to be paved. Those who walked the path before us didn’t. They laid the stone, poured the asphalt, and smoothed the way. We must do the same. However, don’t make the mistake of believing you can do it alone. You will be far more successful if you partner with the aboriginal and ethnic minority-owned businesses inCanada.

What can we at MBE magazine do to help? We plan to publish articles that focus on doing business outside our borders. We cannot ignore the fact that the survival of our businesses is dependent on our ability to go where our customers go.

What do you need to know about doing business abroad? In which countries? Do you have a “lesson-learned” to share? Please tell us…via e-mail, our website, or any of our social networks. We’ll do our best to address your needs and spread the word.

We are always listening.


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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.


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


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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