The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Business Center in Alabama  announced a strategic partnership with the International Sustainability Institute of Applied Sciences, a division of ACF Enterprises LLC, to pilot a blueprint for small business sustainable development in South Mobile County.
To ensure inclusion and capacity-building of minority business enterprises (MBEs) in the emerging green economy, staff at the Business Center, which is working collaboratively with the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation, received comprehensive training from the International Sustainability Institute of Applied Sciences to become Certified Sustainability Consultants. The intent of the strategic partnership is to pilot a “blended” training program that leverages technology with consulting to move central Gulf companies along a continuum of continuous improvements in sustainability performance.
According to Pamela Ramos, the Business Center’s Program Director, “Training and consulting will play an important role in transitioning south Mobile County businesses to sustainable operations in 2012. This is a way to add value and competitive advantage to a minority business enterprise classification.”
The strategic partnership with ACF Enterprises allows MBDA Business Center clients the ability to access proprietary web-based training and development tools designed to improve operating efficiencies. The Supplier Excellence in Managing Sustainability (SEMS™) courseware includes an online sustainability assessment with a follow-up report, an interactive sustainability e-course with engaging exercises to ensure learning has occurred, and a tutorial that features an easy-to-use planning template to create a customized sustainability action plan. Best of all, the online tools are available 24/7, allowing entrepreneurs the flexibility to learn on their own time and at their own pace.
With the MBDA Business Center providing technical assistance, the companies participating in the program will be able to produce and implement a sustainability plan that includes specific reduction goals, plus action steps and timelines to move the business forward. What’s more, SEMS™Green Business Certification from the International Sustainability Institute of Applied Sciences will provide independent, third-party verification that sustainable policies and practices are actually functional and not just self proclamations.
The project is being funded by the Rockefeller Foundation through a grant from The Community Foundation of South Alabama to address the development needs of diverse businesses significantly affected by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and its aftermath. The grant was made possible by a contribution received from the Fund for Gulf Communities, a program of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.
The MBDA Business Center in Mobile, Alabama, is part of a nationwide network of centers established by the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce. The primary mission of MBDA Business Centers is to create jobs and strengthen the U.S. economy by fostering the growth and global competitiveness of minority-owned and managed firms. MBDA Business Centers assists minority entrepreneurs and business owners with consulting services, contract and financing opportunities, bonding and certification services, building business-to-business alliances and training. In addition to these services, the MBDA Business Center in Mobile offers assistance with international business financing and green/sustainable business certification. The center, operated by the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce since 2006, has far exceeded its goal of securing $154 million in procurement contracts for business owners. Also during this time, the center has assisted more than 350 clients, helping them create more than 460 jobs. In 2011 alone, $350+million in contracts were awarded to minority businesses through the center’s efforts.
ACF is a woman- and minority owned company with a unique sustainability practice. The company operates in two divisions: the International Sustainability Institute of Applied Sciences leverages multimedia technology to create engaging training programs and innovative curriculum. ACF Environmental addresses offers expert consulting and a variety of technical solutions to address impacts. As part of our mission to be a leader in sustainability educationand consulting services, ACF has developed a virtual Green Business Development Center that is open 24/7 to meet the flexible schedule of busy entrepreneurs and managers.
The Community Foundation of South Alabama is a nonprofit foundation that plays a key role in meeting the needs of South Alabama through leadership and grants. More than $60 million in grants have been awarded since 1976 by the Foundation to nonprofit organizations to support programs that make life better in our community. The Community Foundation builds lasting endowments to ensure grants are available to support the community forever.