We recently posted a Challenge with the New York & New Jersey Minority Supplier Development Council (The Council) which seeks to identify innovative products and services that drive sustainability, create supply chain efficiencies, and benefit urban and rural communities and business owners. The Challenge offers Minority-Owned Business Enterprises and diverse organizations looking to highlight their innovation, build capacity, and develop supplier relationships with large publically traded corporations, as well as public sector agencies, an opportunity to gain local and national exposure and drive new business opportunities. We asked Kevin V.G. Wells, General Counsel and Director of Compliance for The Council, to chat with us about the Challenge.
Hi Kevin – we appreciate you taking the time to join us. Can you tell us more about The Council and its interest in promoting innovative products and services?
Absolutely. The Council has been proudly operating for close to 40 years. It links its minority supplier network, consisting of start-ups through companies with over $2 billion in revenue, to commercial contract opportunities. Our organization has three core functions: 1) Provide private-sector certification in New York and New Jersey for US entrepreneurs whose businesses are at least 51% Asian-American, African-American, Hispanic-American, Native-American or Pacific-Islander owned, operated, and controlled; 2) Facilitate contract opportunities for Council-certified suppliers with its Fortune 500 membership; and 3) Develop minority supply chains by cultivating innovation.
The Council focuses on minority supply chain development rather than minority business development. It channels diversity into the supply chains of its Fortune 500 corporate membership. These thrusts are geared toward businesses in the fields of science, technology, manufacturing, and environmental betterment. Today, if a diverse business does not address these areas, we strongly believe that it will fail.
How does this Challenge fit into your plans for your upcoming Sustainability Summit?
This Challenge is a vehicle to promote minority supply chain development and innovation within the emerging domestic market. It is also a funnel for all submitting Solvers to actively participate in our Sustainability Summit. Participants will have the opportunity to present their core competencies and to learn from the competencies of others.
So it sounds as though the monetary prize for this Challenge, a total of $10,000, is only part of the incentive for Solvers to participate. Is that right?
That is correct. The Sustainability Summit will not only laud four winners of the Challenge, but it will also provide 40 semi-finalists the opportunity to showcase their innovative products or services. As part of this Summit, The Council is promoting an Innovation Arena. Fortune 500 companies, global business entities, venture capitalists, government representatives, environmental thought leaders, and small/medium businesses will have the chance to vet these semi-finalists as resources for their respective needs. The Sustainability Summit will take place at the Sentry Center in New York City on October 9, 2012.
The Council’s mission is to facilitate contract opportunities for Minority-Owned Business Enterprises (MBEs), yet the Challenge is open to all companies. Can you tell us a bit more about that decision?
If diversity drives innovation, our challenge pool must represent the best and brightest. Within that pool of Solvers, businesses representing the emerging domestic market will be highlighted. The Council has always encouraged its certified suppliers to create strategic partnerships, and we believe that this Challenge will facilitate that opportunity.
You are seeking innovative and sustainable products and services that also bring benefits to urban and rural communities. Could you elaborate on the targeted community criteria, and also talk about US versus global markets? (more…)