Winning business with a large institution is a hard thing to manage especially if you don’t have any prior experience with them. For many small businesses a lack of opportunity is the biggest issue holding them back rather than a lack of offerings, services, or products. Organizations like Washington University in St Louis are looking to help small businesses win contracts through their Supplier Diversity Initiative.

According to Washington University in St Louise “The university spends more than $800 million in goods and services annually. The east end expansion, slated to break ground in May, will cost about $350 million. The School of Medicine revitalization project will cost $1 billion. Currently, 5.5 percent of university business goes to MBEs or WBEs, a number Kuebler is committed to increasing.”  The plan is to hire minority and women own businesses that can handle the responsibilities needed to complete the project. For businesses that may not be ready for a massive contract, the Zone Business Incubator program “connects small businesses with small projects. Say an office in Urbauer Hall in the university’s Green Zone needs a new electrical outlet, or a bathroom in Bixby Hall in the Silver Zone needs a new toilet. The zone manager may hire from a pre-approved list of MBEs or WBEs.”

The main point is to increase spend with organizations that generally lack an opportunity to win one. While some argue that this is giving an unfair advantage to MBEs and WBEs, the numbers just don’t defend that statement. Programs like these are indeed necessary to grant opportunities for those who would not be able to win them through normal means. To learn more about Washington University in St Louis’ supplier diversity program check out

Invigorated Supplier Diversity Initiative strengthens minority-owned businesses, St. Louis region

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