by BLACK ENTERPRISE Editors
There are over 33 Million small businesses in the U.S., employing over 46% of private sector employees
By Alecia Taylor
The annual Closing Equity Gap Conference took over downtown Baltimore for four days, bringing in thousands of people to connect and diversify their businesses.
The conference was hosted by The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) and Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) and took place at the Baltimore Convention Center from Oct. 21 – 25. While the location changes every year, the mission remains consistent. Every year thousands of people attend the conference to help close the equity gap between the majority and minority communities within the business industry. This year’s conference featured the Governor of Maryland Wes Moore, workshops for entrepreneurs and the highly anticipated exhibition, “The Exchange.”
Although minorities make up a generous amount of businesses, there are still equity gaps between minority-owned businesses and white businesses. McGuire said to boost the economy and support these businesses, these businesses must have support.
There are over 33 Million small businesses in the U.S., employing over 46% of private sector employees, according to Small Business Advocacy. Around 3 million businesses are Black-owned, according to the U.S. Census.
However, equity issues such as funding, capital and business relationships stand in the way of businesses flourishing to their full potential.
Photo by Alecia Taylor
The conference allowed large and small businesses to connect to mingle in a professional setting to bridge those gaps.
One of the main focuses of the conference was connecting those to diverse suppliers–a business strategy that incorporates a diverse selection of minority-owned businesses as suppliers and vendors.
Minority-business owners like Ericka Koumare, the owner and CEO of Serene Home Care Agency LLC based in Philadelphia, traveled to make connections with one another. Serene Home Care focuses on connecting families with home care providers for seniors. While at the conference, she met up with healthcare suppliers to help grow her business.
“This is an awesome opportunity,” said Koumare. “I’m glad they have a showcase that aims to close the gap. These connections will help [entrepreneurs] make valuable connections on their journeys to help others.”
“The Exchange” exhibition was one of the highlights for many conference goers. The exhibition, which was open for a day and a half, gathered hundreds of suppliers like Amazon, Walmart, and Target to connect with businesses to grow their diverse supply chains.
Although there were big names with booths at the exhibition, there were a few businesses with booths to advertise themselves to suppliers.
Nia McAdoo, the Curator for the Homage Exhibit, a collection of private Black artifacts, was among those who were advertising their businesses for suppliers. The Homage Exhibit is run by McAdoo and her husband Morris McAdoo.
“You’ll see a lot of larger companies looking to connect with smaller suppliers but we’re the flip side,” said McAdoo. “It’s our goal to meet corporations who are looking to work with diverse businesses.”
The McAdoos’ collection features artifacts signed by historical figures like Coretta Scott King, Federick Douglass and politicians. By connecting with businesses, the couple hopes to engage communities with Black history in a new and engaging setting.
While the conference brings together all working parts of the business industry, McQuire is hoping everyone is looking at the conference as more than that.
“It’s not just a celebration to call for action for communities to come together and to elevate minority businesses in the topic of the proper supply chain,” she said. “But also federal, state, local government procurement practice.”
RELATED CONTENT: The NMSDC Acres Program Is Supporting Black Farmers’ Agricultural Businesses
Source: Black Enterprise