Posted at 10:42 AM
Recently, I visited the new MBDA Federal Procurement Center in Washington DC, which is a one-of-a-kind specialty center that targets minority business enterprises (MBEs) with revenues over one million dollars. Sharon R. Pinder is the president & CEO of the Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council, the operator, and Gail Bassette is project director for the Center. Gail’s team includes three business consultants who work with her to provide business consulting services to Federal Procurement Center clients.
Gail has an extensive background in business development and experience as a government purchaser at the state level. She is an advocate for the advancement and promotion of minority businesses and believes their success is predicated on a strategic growth plan that is sustainable, flexible, and demonstrates value to customers. Her philosophy was apparent as she walked me through the Center’s process for helping MBEs looking to do business with the Federal Government.
The recently released report by MBDA on contracting barriers states that the greatest barrier that MBEs face when it comes to public contracting is the access to the right networks in public contracting. Gail and her team are part of the solution by connecting MBEs to procurement opportunities through MBDA’s lead generation tools and network resources. They also maintain a vast network of procurement professionals in the federal government, and based on the industry that the MBE is in, the team will suggest the appropriate strategy to gain access to that agency. For example, a network security MBE may find opportunities at the National Institute of Standards and Technology at the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The Center will also help clients with all the things that a business has to think about but may not have the capacity or skills to accomplish such as market research, developing a winning proposal, and helping the company think about their value proposition. When Gail attended a recent contracting conference, she was able to help an MBE think about why their business is different from others providing similar services – to think about what makes them stand out from the crowd and what makes them unique. As the MBE was talking to Gail, the light bulb went off for the business owner, who told Gail that meeting her was worth the price of admission to the conference.
The MBDA Federal Procurement Center received its grant award in September 2016 and is excited about the future for MBEs. Although the Center is located in the DC metropolitan area, it is available to help clients around the country as a resource and tool for MBEs that want to do business with the Federal Government. You can find additional information about the MBDA Federal Procurement Center at http://www.mbda.gov/businesscenters/federalprocurement.