When looking to expand their operations, a promising option for many small business owners is procurement. Procurement is the process through which private companies or government agencies enter into a contract with specialized businesses to acquire goods and/or services. Contracts are not always distributed equitably, however, with smaller businesses from marginalized communities often left out of the procurement process. To address this inequity, many private agencies operate Supplier Diversity programs. These programs hold them accountable for ensuring that minority-owned, woman-owned, LGBT-owned, veteran or service-disabled veteran-owned, disability-owned, and SBA-defined small and disadvantaged businesses are represented in their supply chains as direct or indirect suppliers.
T-Mobile is one such agency that operates a robust Supplier Diversity program. Their mission, according to the program website, in addition to providing “fair and equitable opportunity” for diverse small businesses, is to “Grow a robust supply chain that reflects our diversity and values, strengthens our customer relationships and economically develops the communities we serve.”
To achieve this mission, T-Mobile works with a broad network of community partners across the nation. This includes the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, US Black Chambers, the US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation, the National Veteran Business Development Council, the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council and the Northwest Mountain Minority Supplier Development Council.
These support networks are vital for connecting entrepreneurs from specific disadvantaged backgrounds and communities with resources to start and expand their businesses. With regards to procurement, these agencies–and community-based organizations like Sacramento Valley SBDC–assist businesses acquire the necessary certifications for contracting, and keep them informed of opportunities to bid on jobs.
For businesses interested in participating in T-Mobile’s Supplier Diversity program, there are three steps to join:
1. Get nationally certified with at least one of the following organizations: National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC)
2. Get Certified with the California Public Utilities Commission: Initiate a request for certification as a diverse supplier by the CPUC Supplier Clearinghouse, at thesupplierclearinghouse.com.
3. Sign Up: Register on our site, at https://t-mobile.supplierone.co. Fill out your company profile completely and keep your certifications and profile up to date going forward.
To be sure, the promising future of T-Mobile’s diverse supply chain means a promising future for minority-owned small businesses across the nation. Small businesses interested in learning more about how to contract with T-Mobile, or other agencies, are encouraged to join the SBDC’s Minority/Women/LGBTQ-Owned Small Business Contracting Program, beginning on August 10th. Stacie Harwood, Senior Program Manager of Supplier Diversity at T-Mobile, will speak at the first session about how to do business with T-Mobile and upcoming opportunities. Click here to learn more.