Mentoring Program Helps Women Business Owners Develop Tools to Win Major Corporate Contacts

Magazine: 

A famous quote by Sir Francis Bacon once said "knowledge is power" and for a select group of minority women business owners, the knowledge and connections they have gained through a new AT&T mentoring program could help them land lucrative corporate contracts.

For the past twelve months, seven minority women business owners have been participating in a rigorous year-long mentoring program called, Women of Color Business (WOCB) Growth Initiative, that was created by AT&T. In this program, they learned how to operate effectively within a global supply chain, utilize government and private sector resources, and incorporate cutting-edge technology to improve their business operations. As of August 2010, the seven participants will now be known as the programs first graduating class.

The initiative was launched in 2009 to help minority women business owners develop the tools and expertise to win large corporate contracts. The participants in the program were Madinah Ali, chairwoman and CEO of MSA Global; Cindy Kazee, owner and president of University Network Development; Kim Le, CPA and CIA, CEO and founder of A2Q2 Corporation; Gloria Robbins, CEO and founder of Specialized Marketing Services; Shavila Singh, founder and president of Zero Waste Soulitions; Tracy Stanhoff, president and creative director of AD PRO and Harriet Stricklen, founder and past president of AMG-A Management Group.

The women participated in executive coaching sessions, classes, webinars and other activities that taught them how to operate within a global supply chain, utilize government and private sector resources, incorporate cutting-edge technology to improve their business operations, remove defects and elevate their customers satisfaction.

"The program provided a lot of value in terms of assistance with MSA Global in developing a state of the art Quality Management System (QMS), while preparing us for major contracts with corporations such as AT&T," said Madinah Ali, chairwoman and CEO of MSA Global.

AT&T implemented the mentoring program in response to the Center of Women's Business Research's 2008 study of women of color businesses. The study found that these businesses are starting at three times the rate of all other groups yet lag behind other firms in terms of growth factors such as revenue and number of employees.

"For AT&T to succeed we need to be able to count on quality-certified suppliers that can help us deliver best-in-class products and services to our customers," said Marianne Strobel, executive director, AT&T Global Supplier Diversity.

Since graduating, the seven participants have been introduced to AT&T opportunities that match their specific offerings and to AT&T prime suppliers to explore potential business opportunities.