For almost three decades, the MidAmerica Minority Supplier Development Council (MAMSDC) has enhanced the growth and development of minority owned business enterprises (MBEs) through participation in private and public sector procurement programs. As one of 37 regional councils of the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), MAMSDC represents businesses across Kansas and Western Missouri.
The official mission of MAMSDC is to “Increase business development opportunities between majority and minority businesses and to strengthen our community.” Foremost, the council aims to facilitate greater corporate purchasing volume with MBE suppliers through a robust and involved network. MAMSDC continually strives to achieve excellence and has a history full of innovation, dedication and hard work.
In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, minorities across the Kansas City metropolitan area were becoming increasingly frustrated with the state of affairs in the city, especially with the lack of opportunities available to them in the world of business. In Kansas City, 29% of the 1.4 million residents at the time were minorities, yet very few had access to meaningful business opportunities. A group of Kansas City business leaders, including members of the Civic Council and Chamber of Commerce, banded together to create an organization in order to change the status quo and create a more equitable business environment in the city.
A purchasing council for minority-owned businesses was one of many ideas that emerged. That organization was first known as the Kansas City Minority Supplier Development Council (KCMSDC) and was officially established in 1983. KCMSDC founders concluded that the Board of Directors should exclusively consist of corporate CEOs. Top business executives from Hallmark Cards, KCP&L, Tension Envelope, JE Dunn Construction, Helzberg Diamonds, Southwestern Bell Telephone Company, Alpha Plastics, United-Telecom and other key companies were recruited to become part of the first KCMSDC Board of Directors.
Utilizing these key decision makers ensured that the new purchasing patterns and policies would be driven through companies from the top-down as well as hold purchasing directors accountable for results. CEOs worked with KCMSDC’s highly trained staff to learn how to conduct business with minority suppliers and make calls to area businesses asking them to use minority firms. CEO board
members helped close the loop and secured deals with minority suppliers.
As a result of the CEOs’ efforts, more doors were opened, more business was conducted, and a database was developed pairing those from the corporate community willing to engage in business exchange with minority suppliers.
During KCMSDC’s first 13 years, it held the unique distinction of being the only council in the United States with a Board of Directors composed of CEOs. Serving on the Board required more than the traditional governance and oversight associated with a nonprofit organization, but also lots of work creating initiatives and making deals happen. Programs launched by the organization in its early years included: The annual awards luncheon, monthly spotlight luncheons, Adopt-a-Vendor, Video Vendor, dues investment, joint venture promotion, business counseling, business investment
expo, certification site visits and referrals.
In addition to the CEOs, the original KCMSDC Board adopted the “one member” concept established by NMSDC, in which a single member of the minority business community serves on the Board. To ensure the single minority business member accurately reflected the needs and wants of the larger MBE community, the Minority Input Committee was formed. Likewise, the Purchasing Advisory Committee was created to represent the views of over 750 local purchasers who had agreed to do more business with minority firms and was the first of its kind. These committees conducted broad
research on how to best create a new organization and included best practices on identifying existing minority suppliers, detecting the best qualified suppliers, finding corporations willing to participate in the campaign, establishing a certification process and determining basic organizational functions and programs.
Together, the committees and board members helped KCMSDC achieve a great deal of success. In just 6 months, 80 minority members and 41 corporate members helped 19 minority firms obtain more than $1.2 million.
In 1995, KCMSDC changed its name to the Minority Supplier Council (MSC) and held their first annual business expo later that year. MAMSDC first became an affiliate of the NMSDC in 1990 and became a 501(c)3 organization under the umbrella of 1995: $303 million worth of business was conducted with minority suppliers.
Almost 30 years later, MAMSDC remains a business community that continues to grow stronger through increased diversity. Six staff members ensure that the needs of members are met and that the mission of the organization is properly executed. The council is funded through corporate dues, MBE certification, program and event fees, sponsorships and grants.
Beyond Kansas City
Though initially focused solely on the Kansas City metropolitan area, geographic responsibility for the MAMSDC now includes Western Missouri and the entire state of Kansas. In 2006, MAMSDC opened a second office in Wichita to better serve minority businesses throughout the state of Kansas.
Vice President Donna Wright serves as the director of the Wichita satellite office and brings a wealth of experience across the corporate and small business spectrum to this position. Ms. Wright has extensive experience as a senior purchasing agent and assisting with supplier diversity initiatives from the Boeing Company’s Wichita operations. She is also a former local business owner, consultant, and community business supporter. Her experience, paired with the strategic organizational expansion to Wichita, gives the satellite office a valuable local resource for corporate sourcing opportunities.
In just a few years, the Wichita office has been able to bring minority business participation to the forefront through federal, state, county, city, and school district procurement programs throughout the state of Kansas. The number of corporate supporters and certified MBEs has rapidly increased since the office opened. A key milestone marking the success of the satellite office is the partnership between the Wichita Airport Authority and MAMSDC, formed in 2009 in order to increase the involvement of minority businesses in the construction of a new airport terminal.
What MAMSDC Offers MBEs
Certification, development and access to opportunities are the three main services MAMSDC offers MBEs. Connecting certified MBEs in a wide range of service areas with corporate buyers facilitates MBE growth and expansion and is the primary focus of MAMSDC. This is accomplished not just through working with and identifying MBEs, but also by directly informing corporate buyers about the products and services available through MAMSDC’s certified MBEs. The business Opportunity Fair and networking sessions, also helps MBEs to build meaningful relationships with government agencies, private corporations and other minority suppliers.
Additional resources to help MBEs grow and develop are available through MAMSDC. Financial and capital assistance is available to certified MBEs through the Business Consortium Fund and lending institutions. MAMSDC also encourages larger companies to invest in smaller MBEs. Continuing education, whether through local sessions and workshops, or national programs like the Kellogg Advanced Management Education Program and the Tuck Executive Program, provides certified member MBEs with the chance to increase their capacity and competitiveness.
What MAMSDC Offers Corporations
Corporations are an essential component to the success of MAMSDC. All corporate members of MAMSDC are granted access to the powerful NMSDC national network, which consists of committed
corporate peers, top flight MBEs and high profile publicity within diverse markets. By working directly with its corporate partners, MAMSDC helps corporations fulfill their procurement needs with the best possible match. MAMSDC provides technical assistance and support to increase and enhance its services to both corporate and MBE members.
MAMSDC identifies, adopts and promotes best practices that encourage the purchase of goods and services from area MBEs. Member corporations without an existing minority purchasing program can turn to MAMSDC for advice and guidance.