Earlier this week, the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the U.S. Black Chamber, Inc. teamed up to host the Matchmaker, Training and Awards Conference in Washington, D.C. The free National 8(a) Training, Business Matchmaking and Awards Ceremony aimed to give small disadvantaged businesses access to help on how to procure federal contracting, to get face-to-face meetings and to learn of opportunities to team with larger businesses and graduates of the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development program.
According to John Shoraka, Associate Administrator for Government Contracting and Business Development on the 8(a) training awards and SBA’s partnership with the U.S. Black Chamber, Inc., the SBA has been increasingly proactive in reaching out to minority businesses. “The SBA has stepped up its outreach efforts to small businesses in underserved communities to link them to resources that will help them grow their businesses and compete for federal contracts,” he explains. “This summer, we entered into SBA’s first-ever partnership agreement with the U.S. Black Chamber, Inc. to increase our outreach efforts to these communities that have been hit hard by the economy and encourage participation in SBA’s loan, contracting and counseling programs by African-American-owned small businesses. This event was a great opportunity for these businesses to receive training and have face-to-face meetings with contracting officials to leverage their businesses.”
The SBA says it hoped the program would help participating companies leverage their assets and capabilities so that they might be able to take their businesses to a higher level.
There were also various forums planned that would teach small businesses how to market themselves to the federal government and go after government contracting opportunities. And the SBA planned to discuss the SBA’s Mentor-Protégé program – a tool of the SBA’s 8(a) program that encourages mentors to team with a protégé or smaller firm to help with management and technical assistance, financial assistance and access to joint ventures and federal contracting opportunities.
The opportunities seemed to be plentiful. The SBA and Chamber alerted small businesses that participated that they should expect to be matched for approximately 250 time slots for one-on-one meetings based on their compatibility with approximately 25 buyers.