By STACIA MURPHY
According to the Brookings Institute, there is an opportunity for Black-owned businesses to unlock some $700 billion in revenue if they were earning at the same level as their non-Black business owner counterparts. Entrepreneurship, for many Black business owners, represents far more than owning a business and living the American dream. For many Black Americans, entrepreneurship represents a way to disrupt systemic racism and discrimination. Through Business Equity for Indy (BEI), Black-owned businesses are able to realize their dreams while creating ripples of impact throughout the Indy region.
BEI is a joint effort, comprised of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP), the Indy Chamber, and in collaboration with the Indianapolis Urban League, was created to grow a more inclusive business climate and build greater equity and economic opportunity for the Indy region’s Black residents. Specifically, the Procurement & Participation Taskforce was assembled to increase the launch, growth and success of Black-owned enterprises. While many Indy businesses have publicly committed monies to support Black businesses, most of them are not organically connected to Black people, places and businesses. Until now.
Through the Procurement & Participation Taskforce’s premier event, the Procurement Roundtable, hosted in partnership with Mid-States Minority Supplier Diversity Council and the Indy Black Chamber, supply chain professionals from across the region can foster direct connections with Black-owned businesses. At best, these relationships yield collaborative, multiyear, multi-dollar contracts that enable Black businesses to grow and scale. At a minimum, they create awareness of Black-owned businesses that exist across the Indy region.
In May, the Procurement Roundtable debuted a new, in-person format that included a supplier meet-and-greet. The Aug. 25 event, hosted at Corteva Agriscience, will model the same format, including networking, brief remarks from Reggie Williams, facilitator, consultant to corporate management, PRI and brief pitches from the five participating, Black-owned businesses. Those businesses are:
● Tim Harris II, KidGlove
● Derrick Knox, CEO and principal, Diverse IT
● Andre Johnson, owner, Navis Pack & Ship
● Chris Barney, president, Team Cruiser Supply
● Alicia Mckoy, owner, Peak Mind
Inclusive business is, simply put, good for business. A robust supplier diversity program enables companies to prioritize innovation, offer options in securing goods and services, and can even drive competition between current and prospective vendors. However, to date, many companies still lack diverse supplier pipelines — thus missing out on opportunities for business expansion with the emergence of new consumer needs and shifting demographic realities.
According to a Department of Commerce study, the growing population of color will account for as much as 70% of the total increase in purchasing power from 2000 to 2045. Diverse-owned businesses are a driving force behind economic growth. They will continue to be a major segment of the U.S. economy in the 21st century as the transition toward a more diverse demographic majority continues.
Furthermore, commitments to supplier diversity on the local level create cascading impacts throughout communities. By investing in Black-owned businesses, corporations are empowering Black entrepreneurs to build their own wealth alongside their own legacies. They then hire Black employees. They fill gaps for Black consumers. They help keep monies circulating in Black communities and neighborhoods in meaningful and sustainable ways.
Programs like the Procurement Roundtable are critical for the business community because investments supporting Black-owned businesses are not just financial. Through the Roundtable, suppliers can learn more about doing business with Black enterprises as well as begin to forge new relationships with local vendors. At the same time, Black enterprises get ongoing coaching through Reggie Williams and opportunities to continue to promote their businesses to companies searching to expand their supply chain relationships. Best of all? The Procurement Roundtable is free to attend. We welcome the community to register to attend through the BEI website or to reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Stacia Murphy is director of equity, outreach and strategic partnerships at Indy Chamber.