By Tonya McMurray
The National Diversity Veteran Small Business Program has taken the military motto of “leave no one behind” and applied it to helping minority business enterprises navigate the complicated maze of doing business with the federal government.
NDVSB’s eMarketplace offers a platform to access orders from the U.S. Army and Air Force to its supplier partners, giving them federal customers and experience to provide a foundation for larger government orders.
“We’re passionate about helping our supplier partners — socioeconomic, veteran service, disabled veterans, military spouses, small businesses, local businesses — overcome barriers for both the corporate environment and the federal government market,” said David Saroli, CEO and founder of NDVSB, the largest diversity and veteran small business inclusion program in the United States.
The NDVSB eMarketplace solution was originally designed 20 years ago to provide a way for small suppliers to gain visibility with larger corporations while helping those companies increase their diverse spend.
The eMarketplace platform allows product suppliers to create and manage an online catalog, accept purchase orders, process payments, send electronic invoices and provide line-item detail for purchases. The technology works with all automated purchasing systems and provides a secure way to process credit cards and government purchase cards, also known as pCards.
“All of our supplier partners are standardized,” Saroli said. “They’re going to build a catalog the same way. They’re going to receive your order and process it the same way. They’re going to process your payment and give you Level III reporting detail the same way. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a multimillion-dollar company or a small business just starting out.”
The NDVSB eMarketplace also includes women and other diverse suppliers who offer services. Through the platform, buyers can complete purchase agreements for a one-time service or contracts for ongoing services.
Gateway to federal acquisitions
NDVSB is a federal contractor to the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES), which manages Exchange retail locations on Army and Air Force bases throughout the world. Through this relationship, AAFES uses the NDVSB eMarketplace solution to conduct B2B business with these bases. The NDVSB/AAFES eMarketplace is accessed by United States bases through the business-to-business portal, allowing authorized users access to locate and purchase products and services from NDVSB suppliers.
All authorized users make purchases on Government-issued Purchase Cards. With the GPC program, government agencies use a pCard to buy goods and services up to $10,000 without going through the standard General Services Administration process.
“That means there are no bids and no contracts needed,” Saroli said. “They can purchase anything $10,000 or less in an open market. There’s a lot of money being spent on those GPC cards.”
Working in partnership with the Air Force, NDVSB optimized the eMarketplace for the Air Force’s First Look program, which makes it easier for military purchasers to find certified veteran-, women- and minority-owned businesses to meet diverse spend targets.
Through the First Look program, each Air Force base has a customized version of eMarketplace that includes suppliers able to serve their base. This version allows suppliers visibility in the markets they can serve, whether that’s in a single state, multistate region or nationwide. The eMarketplace is configured to the individual needs of each base and has key word-search functionality.
The Army is also launching the NDVSB/AAFES eMarketplace as a new preferred open market program that will make it mandatory for bases to look for open market products and services on eMarketplace first, allowing them to look elsewhere only if they can’t find what they need on the NDVSB/AAFES eMarketplace.
Saroli expects more government agencies will begin to use the NDVSB/AAFES eMarketplace. The Environmental Protection Agency is one of the latest offices to take advances of the platform. The U.S. Office of Management and Budget recently issued a memo urging government purchasers to focus on developing a more diverse federal supply chain to meet the President’s Management Agenda goal of allocating 15% of federal dollars to small, disadvantaged businesses.
“The big picture and vision are for all federal agencies to use NDVSB as the vehicle to centralize purchasing and market research activity,” he said.
Saroli’s hope is that the NDVSB/AAFES eMarketplace will help diverse suppliers gain the foundation they need to bid for larger government contracts.
“This [eMarketplace] is where you start. You start getting those orders and building relationships. Now you have references, and you have experiences. We’re building capacity and resilience with intention,” he said. “Our goal is to align federal sector policy — behaviors and buying patterns — by using NDVSB/AAFES eMarketplace as the vehicle to provide small business growth across the USA.”
To learn more about The NDVSB E-Marketplace, visit ndvsb.com/emarketplace