BusinessDCAP helps small businesses navigate procurement process

DCAP helps small businesses navigate procurement process

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Shortly after the pandemic started, Sibley Memorial Hospital and Children’s National Medical Center implemented a “communication in community” public relations strategy that hospital officials used to better engage District residents.  

They did so with the help of Brandire Agency, a Ward 8-based branding marketing communications firm. 

As Brandire Agency CEO and founder Madia Brown explained to the Informer, Brandire’s ongoing collaboration with Sibley Memorial Hospital and Children’s National Medical Center happened because of the DC Community Anchor Partnership (DCAP). 

DCAP, in existence since 2017, represents the efforts of the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development (CNHED) and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) to help minority business enterprises (MBEs) navigate the procurement process and acquire large contracts with hospitals, universities, and utility companies — which are also known as anchor institutions. 

Brown connected with DCAP in 2018, ultimately securing a contract with Sibley Memorial Hospital months before the start of the pandemic. She said that relationship continues to this day.  

“What D.C. is doing is unique. It’s the real thing that will make a difference by allowing us the opportunity to show up,” Brown told the Informer. 

“When we talk about diversity, equity and inclusion, a big part is access,” Brown continued. “I’m hoping that DCAP can be a model for other programs that focus on community and economic development and helping with access and opportunity to move the needle and make a difference.” 

At DCAP’s inception, four participating anchor institutions were connecting MBEs with $5 million in contracts. 

Today, 13 DCAP anchor institutions are doling out more than $250 million in contracts to MBEs. Projects run the gamut, from construction, maintenance, information technology, and even sanitation and janitorial work.  

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Beyond Sibley Memorial Hospital and Children’s National Medical Center, other anchor institutions include — Georgetown University, University of the District of Columbia, Adventist Healthcare, DC Water, Pepco, and Whitman-Walker Health. 

On Sept. 28, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) joined CNHED in celebrating DCAP’s investment milestone — just weeks after Kristi Whitfield, director of the D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD), announced her resignation. 

Bowser’s press conference in the wharf area also took place amid ongoing conversations between local lawmakers about how to help certified business enterprises directly secure major procurements with D.C. government agencies. 

At a D.C. Council breakfast on Sept. 19, Kenyan McDuffie (I-At large), Trayon White (D-Ward 8) and Anita Bonds (D-At large) mentioned conversations they’ve had with constituents who expressed frustration about not receiving opportunities, or even not being compensated on time as subcontractors. 

Last year, the District completed a disparity study that McDuffie secured funding for in the fiscal year 2021 budget. McDuffie said the information gathered from that study lays the foundation for engaging the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, the Black Chamber of Commerce and other entities representing women and minority-owned firms in the creation of a minority and women enterprise program. 

Such programming would follow McDuffie’s efforts to support DCAP. 

Over the last seven fiscal years, McDuffie has secured $1.8 million in funding for DCAP and helped bring JP Morgan Chase on as a supporter. In this juncture of DCAP’s existence, McDuffie said he wants to see all universities serve as anchor institutions. 

“We know that minority-owned firms are capable. We need to match them with the opportunities to help them excel and expand and grow their businesses,” McDuffie said. “When those businesses succeed, the District succeeds because those small businesses are employing people from the community in places like Wards 7 and 8. That’s a recipe for chipping away at the stark racial wealth gap that exists in D.C.” 

As a co-convener, DMPED has contributed more than $1 million toward the administration of DCAP. 

A significant part of DCAP’s work involves consulting MBEs around their areas of interest, forecasting requests for proposals sent by anchor institutions, and sending those requests for proposals to MBEs that have the capacity to fulfill them. Another aspect of DCAP also centers on preparing MBEs for the procurement process and, at times, placing them in the same room as anchor institutions to establish rapport. 

As seen in the case of Georgetown University, DCAP has also helped anchor institutions develop minority supplier programs and a formal policy that espouses support for MBEs. With DMPED’s assistance, Georgetown launched an online center to engage a diverse array of suppliers of medical supplies, along with resources related to campus construction and renovation. 

CNHED president and CEO Steve Glaude said that DCAP has played a part in keeping many MBEs afloat during the pandemic. 

One business that came to mind for him was Flavorture, a Northeast-based Black-owned catering business that provided meals for workers at Children’s National Medical Center. 

Pinkey Reddick, the owner of Flavorture, has since expanded her workforce and opened an accompanying restaurant. In February, Flavorture became the first Black-owned restaurant in Woodley Park in Northwest. 

“The pandemic itself was somewhere between a connector and a reminder of the benefits of local suppliers,” Glaude said. 

“Many of our largest institutions have gotten back to business as needed and that has reestablished some of their procurements,” Glaude added. “In some of our large institutions, construction continued during the pandemic so some of our referrals weren’t severely disrupted.” 

For Shinar Little, DCAP placed him in the eyes of large contractors during a time when the pandemic forced him to explore other sources of revenue for his business. 

Little owns Foghill LLC, a Ward 7-based business that provides full-service facilities maintenance, including daily cleaning, floor and carpet care, and plumbing. Once attempting to secure large contracts became cumbersome, Little took on residential clientele. 

He told the Informer that those experiences primed him for the meetings that DCAP facilitated between Foghill LLC and Georgetown University, and later Sibley Memorial Hospital and Children’s National Medical Center. 

“Opportunities were nonexistent. We made cold calls and marketing emails, and visited LinkedIn. We did a lot of groundwork but the barriers to entry are hard to navigate,” Little said. 

“If not for DCAP, it would’ve been hard to get in the door,” Little added. “DCAP broke some of that barrier to entry and got us in the room [with larger companies] to share our value. We had the opportunity to show that we can actually satisfy expectations.”

Source: Washington Informer

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