By M.V. Greene
Since Ying McGuire, CEO
and president of National Minority Supplier Development Council Inc. (NMSDC),
took over the helm of the 51-year-old organization in late July 2021, there
have been a whirlwind of changes. The moves come as NMSDC marches toward an organizational
goal for minority business enterprises (MBEs) under its certification umbrella
to achieve collective annual revenue of $1 trillion over the next several years
to help close an acknowledged racial wealth gap in the nation.
McGuire — speaking exclusively
with MBN USA ahead of NMSDC’s Annual Conference & Exchange Oct. 22-25 in
Baltimore, Maryland — shared insight on implementation of the organization’s
new model for certifying MBEs. What she describes is like the precision
assembly of a jigsaw puzzle.
Hardly a game, NMSDC’s new
hybrid certification model is a linchpin in the major transformation occurring
at the leading U.S. supplier diversity advocacy organization, serving more than
15,000 nationally certified Asian, Black, Hispanic and Native American minority
businesses enterprises and over 1,700 national corporate members.
Leveraging an illustrious
history — NMSDC’s golden jubilee anniversary was celebrated in 2022 — the
organization’s future will be marked by new ways of operating, strengthened by
a foundation built on efficient business processes, enhanced service delivery,
prioritized resources and emerging automation technologies.
Moving forward with hybrid
McGuire said the initial
major changes, notably hybrid certification, aren’t arriving a moment too soon.
“To be honest, I think
that the right time for this change was a while ago,” McGuire said. “But I know
that transformation at this scale takes some time. We have been deliberate. For
two years, we have been studying, listening, analyzing, mapping out and moving
She said revamped
procedures for certifying MBEs is a core element of the plan to modernize NMSDC
as it marches toward the ambitious $1 trillion sales goal.
The NMSDC board of
directors approved the move to hybrid certification in May 2023 with the intent
of driving additional efficiencies across the organization’s network of 23
regional councils. The board and leadership will leverage the new model to
allow the affiliate councils to focus more on service delivery to grow and
For NMSDC, a hybrid model
means certification application processing will transition to the NMSDC
national office rather than at each of the regional councils, thus redeploying
resources to affiliates to increase value-add programming and services. McGuire
noted that MBEs will benefit from a single point of entry into the NMSDC
network for a faster and more spontaneous certification application experience.
“We’re very excited about
the efficiencies we’re going to gain in freeing up resources in developing and
delivering value-added services,” she said. “It’s about having the right people
and right process in place and deploying the relevant technologies.”
The new certification
process adheres to NMSDC’s approach that while its third-party validation of
MBEs will remain the gold standard to ensure that enterprises are truly
minority-owned, -controlled and operated, certification alone does not grow
In its 2022 Minority
Business Economic Impact Report, NMSDC said its certified MBEs increased
collective annual revenue by 21% over 2021 to $316.2 billion, creating a total
impact of $482.1 billion on the U.S. economy. The advocacy organization reasons
in the study that if it can maintain an annual growth rate of 10%-20% in MBE
revenues by certifying more MBEs and, equally important, by increasing
corporate member spend with current NMSDC-certified MBEs, it will reach the $1
trillion goal by 2030.
“There’s a huge amount of
potential for MBEs to really grow and contribute a greater percentage to the
U.S. economy,” McGuire said. “To do that, we have to get other foundational
work done more efficiently and effectively. We have to make our foundational
work more technology-driven, starting with the certification process to remove
some of the long-standing barriers.”
She said the hybrid
certification implementation project is on schedule following completion of a
technology “discovery” phase of the initiative, which included engaging an
external implementation partner and dedicating NMSDC chief transformation
officer as an executive project lead for oversight of the project, a senior
vice president of network success to engage directly with the regional
councils, a vice president of technology officer, a project manager and a communications
manager. NMSDC also consulted with corporate members, MBEs and regional council
Some MBEs, for instance,
advised that the NMSDC certification model was antiquated and had not kept up
with the times of how they are currently doing business and how markets are
changing, McGuire said. In addition, adding to the changing landscape are
increasing legal challenges to affirmative action principles and diversity,
equity and inclusion initiatives, along with new certification organizations popping
up as direct competitors to NMSDC.
“The whole dynamic has
changed,” she said of today’s supplier diversity arena. She likened what is
occurring in supplier diversity to the defunct video entertainment model that
was Blockbuster LLC but has morphed into a Netflix Inc. streaming model.
“We’ve waited far too
long, and we must act now and move those tactical concerns of certification to
larger goals of accelerating MBE growth,” McGuire added.
Opening more doors
She promises that NMSDC’s
transformation will serve to open additional doors for MBEs to do business with
corporations and other organizations. Instead of historically engaging only
chief procurement officers and their supply chains, supplier diversity also
must bring other leaders to the mix — such as chief financial officers, chief
marketing officers and chief information officers, she said.
“We need to involve
line-of-business leaders. We need to increase opportunities for MBEs in
industries not often considered as a part of a traditional supplier diversity
strategy, like legal and financial services,” McGuire said. “This modernization
is really very important to make this [transformation] happen by helping more
MBEs get certifications that can do business with our corporate members.”
An NMSDC hybrid
certification project team now is working on use cases to build the new system
with the first phase of deployment beginning in December 2023, according to
McGuire, to gauge that it will meet the needs of the full NMSDC network. Any
adjustments will be made in 2024 with onboarding of all regions taking place
throughout the rest of the 2024, she said.
NMSDC, MBDA collab a
transformation will command much of the buzz at the organization’s Annual
Conference and Exchange with the theme “Close the Equity Gap: Act Now.
Accelerate Growth. Achieve Equity.” This year’s conference is being held in
conjunction with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business
Development Agency’s (MBDA’s) annual Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week
Both conferences are being
held concurrently in the same meeting space in Baltimore and will include
MBDA-contributed federal government programming focused on creating greater
opportunities for MBEs.
“The Minority Business
Development Agency is excited to work with NMSDC to commemorate the 40th Annual
National Minority Enterprise Development Week, a historic milestone for the
minority business community,” said Donald R. Cravins Jr., under secretary of
commerce for minority business development, MBDA.
“MBDA and NMSDC share a
mission to create an equitable business ecosystem in order to unlock our
nation’s economic potential. MBDA and NMSDC have the tools and the reach to
make this moment count by expanding access to capital, contracts, networks and
opportunities that every American entrepreneur deserves,” he added.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce
Gina Raimondo, the chief economist for the Invest in America Cabinet at the
White House, along with the CEOs of Constellation Energy, Exelon and CareFirst
BlueCross BlueShield are among many scheduled to address the conference.
McGuire said she is
excited to stage a joint event with MBDA because the result will be new ideas
for MBE growth and new connections for attendees.
“We’re doing it together
and showing it takes all of us to get this done,” she said.
To learn more about NMSDC,