In August, I had the pleasure of working with the Virginia Asian Chamber of Commerce on a training course for small business owners on how they can compete for large supplier contracts. A unique aspect of this particular training event was that the training was geared toward Asian American-owned Small Businesses (SB). The course instructor provided guidance to the attendees on administrative and business approaches that best meet the large supplier requirements.
As I listened to the instruction, I reflected on broader impact of the effort and the words of Vice President Biden earlier this year during the Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Opening Ceremony. The Vice President remarked that “America’s success depends on the endless streams of enterprising immigrants coming to our nation, and the opportunities we provide to them.” This was clearly one of those opportunities.
For large firms, small minority-owned business outreach amounts to more than just the right thing to do. It is good business. By understanding the needs of small businesses, large firms gain a better understanding of innovative solutions communities have to offer. America innovates when it casts out a broad net for new ideas, and finds small enterprising companies hungry to break new glass in their field. After all, the aerospace industry did not originate from a large company, but rather a small bicycle shop owned by the Wright Brothers.
At the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI), our Regional Interagency Working Group will help lead a series of similar initiatives to connect small businesses with similar opportunities, including match-making sessions with larger contractors and other economic forums facilitated by our federal partners. WHIAAPI is poised to multiply the effect of this critical connecting for small businesses throughout the country.
One of the truly great things in our democracy, and the American economy as a whole, is our innate ability to tap into the innovative spirit of the small business community. When large firms reach out to diverse communities for innovation, economic opportunity springs into motion, and energizes communities all across America.
Ravi Chaudhary is a member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.