The Diverse Supplier Development Academy was established as the first of its kind to empower diverse business enterprises and elevate their competitive presence in the market.
Diverse small regional businesses (e.g., ethnic minorities, women and disabled veterans) supply a disproportionately low volume of business within their industries. The Diverse Supplier Development Academy (DSDA) seeks to equip these business owners with advanced business knowledge, skills and tools. The purpose of the DSDA is to bolster small business growth and increase the competitive presence in the market of participating businesses. This will in turn stimulate economic development and job creation in their regions. This should also increase pressure to lower the cost of goods sold in the market.
The DSDA will accomplish this through a 12 week program incorporating three core elements – education, mentoring and hands on support. First, the program will offer education in core business principals to sharpen the skills and knowledge of each business owner. Second, the DSDA will provide one-on-one mentorship through members of SCORE (the Service Corps of Retired Executives) to provide valuable guidance specifically for each entrepreneur in pursuit of attainable goals that encourage their business growth. Finally, the academy will include hands-on support through the University of Connecticut to connect entrepreneurs to other tools, resources and networks that are unique to the academy.
The academy will follow an instructional model that is largely experiential and is expressly developed for the adult learner. The DSDA’s curriculum will incorporate study materials and research on their own business in advance of instructional sessions, workshop discussions, and final deliverables. The goal is that upon graduation, each participant will leave the academy with a briefcase full of work that they had completed for their own business with immediate application and benefit.
The DSDA will implement this program in a way that is transparent throughout the process. All parties involved will understand each other’s responsibilities and expectations, and there will be feedback mechanisms in place to ensure the effectiveness of all facets in the academy, as well as the progressive achievement of each entrepreneur’s self-declared goals.
To be a nationally recognized and highly regarded academy whose diverse business enterprise graduates show consistent and sustainable business growth. By stimulating growth in these diverse businesses, the Diverse Supplier Development Academy (DSDA) will promote job creation on local, state and national levels. The DSDA will be a model of excellence in business education and professional mentorship, and maintain this aspiration through continuous improvement.
To equip small businesses with the tools and knowledge to attain their next level of growth in their business by regular and meaningful one-on-one mentorship, educational workshops on business skills, and hands on support of resources unique to the academy. The different facets of the DSDA will interact with and complement each other, providing complete transparency throughout the program.
Economic Development Goals
The DSDA sets a long term goal of measurably improving small diverse businesses in Connecticut. The DSDA will measure its success in this endeavor by:
- Increasing the number of diverse businesses bidding on work for sponsoring companies
- Increasing the market presence in minority and other diverse suppliers
- Promoting job creation within diverse vendor businesses
- Increasing competition for all suppliers and reduce the cost of purchased goods and services
- Improving the economic health of the local region through diverse suppliers’ growth
- Increasing the number of full time employees supported by DSDA graduates
- Equipping diverse small business leaders with advanced business knowledge and skills
The DSDA will serve only those small businesses that are owned and daily operated by one or more ethnic minorities, women, or disabled veterans. The community development goals of the DSDA include:
- Growing a diverse supplier market penetration rate that is proportional to the demographics of the communities served by sponsoring companies of the DSDA
- Equipping diverse business owners with the skills to become better managers of their business
- Making business and industrial knowledge accessible to business owners that may not have had the opportunity to gain the education required to aggressively compete in their target markets
- Create jobs as the graduate businesses grow and improve their top line revenue and bottom line profits
The DSDA will maintain contact with graduates to annually evaluate:
- Increases in full time employees
- Changes in revenues, cash flow and cost of goods sold
- Change in capital expenditures
- Capital funding sought and obtained (discuss reasons for funding denied)
- Contract bids presented and won (discuss reasons for bids lost)
Also, every three years, the Academy will seek an impact statement for each sponsoring company as regards the PR value of participation in the academy and the community support indicated.
The educational component of the program will focus on core aspects of running a business. The topics selected will be ones that are applicable to all businesses and will focus on the practical application of these skills. The overall goal is to provide lessons that cannot reasonably be provided by an online course.
The education will be delivered through seven workshops over the course of a 10-week program. Each workshop will last 4 hours, during which time there will be a lecture given by a speaker knowledgeable on the keynote topic, an opportunity to apply those skills to an exercise, and a de-briefing session with the speaker. There will also be a lighter, supplementary lecture that is related to or builds off of the keynote topic. At the orientation meeting at the start of the program a set of workshop norms will be established.
The educational content is divided into two components: the core content and the supplementary content. The core content will be offered through the five workshops offered during each session of the program. The supplementary content will be offered through recommendations to attend external workshops or through informational packets provided to all participants. The workshops will cover the following topics:
·Elevator Speech / Value Proposition
·Marketing Plan, Sales, & Public Relations
·Cash Flow, Net Present Value, and Business Valuation
·Bidding Process & Negotiating Contracts
·Banking and Access to Capital
·Bidding Process & E-Sourcing
Supplementary Educational Resources
While the core and supplementary content cover many aspects of a business, the program recognizes that individual businesses will have unique needs, not all of which will be satisfied by the content above. Mentors will help businesses identify other educational needs outside of those covered in the workshops. These educational needs may be met through additional SCORE workshops at any of the SCORE chapters in the state, online SCORE/SBA courses, or UniversalClass online offerings, all of which are included in the Academy database. Additionally, other sponsor companies may choose to host optional workshops that are specific to their businesses throughout the course of the program.
Graduate Student Consultants
(To apply to be a student consultant please follow the instructions at the bottom of the page. You must be enrolled as a graduate student at any one of the University of Connecticut campuses.)
The Student Consultants will be a key piece of the hands-on component of the program. Small business owners often find themselves wearing many hats and devoting their time to working in their business versus working on their business. Mentors will work with the business owners to assess areas of strengths, deficiencies and opportunities for improvement. Since the mentors are only able to advise the business owners, students with expertise in essential areas can be paired with business owners to carry out critical tasks that will directly lead to the growth of the business.
The Student Consultants will work in conjunction with the mentors and small business owners to fill in, on an as-needed basis, employee gaps. Student Consultants will work on projects that will directly contribute to the growth of business. Such tasks could include but are not limited to: business plan writing/revising, financial analysis, risk assessment or risk management, information systems improvements, marketing, etc.
The necessary traits for Student Consultants include:
- Strong communication skills
- Demonstrate capabilities in at least one of the key fields mentioned above
- Strong familiarity with Microsoft Office as well as any relevant systems used for tasks assigned
An interest in small business development is also a desirable trait.
Compensation and Evaluation of Student Consultants
The students will be paid for their services. The individual business for which they are working will compensate the students at a base rate of $30/hour. These businesses may compensate the students at a higher rate if they choose. The business and the student will set up an appropriate pay schedule – weekly basis, lump sum at end of project, etc.
After the student has completed the task(s) assigned by the business owner, both the business owner and the mentor will evaluate the work done by the student. This evaluation will include an assessment of the final product (effectiveness and appropriateness), the student’s professionalism while working on the assigned task(s), and the student’s ability to communicate with the business owner throughout the project. These evaluations will ensure that Student Consultants are meeting the needs of the business owners and will be used for retention in the Student Consultant pool.
The Connecticut Urban Legal Initiative, Inc. (CULI) is launching a Contract Clinic (Clinic) to assist Academy Participant Clients (APC) with contract review services. As an APC, you will have access to CULI for legal contractual needs.
The Clinic will initially offer basic contract review services (including - Supplier, Distributor, Consultant, One/Two Way NDA’s, Terms and Conditions, Confidentiality, Intellectual Property, etc.). The purpose of this Clinic is not only to assist you with basic contract review, but to serve as an advanced educational experience that will raise your comfort level with contract terms, types and construction. While the services will be available on an as-needed basis, the goal of the Clinic is to prepare you for on-the-fly contract decisions and modifications. We always emphasize that an Attorney should review a final draft contract before you sign it. CULI may also be available if you need more advanced or time consuming services (contract construction, incorporation, etc.). An APC can retain the services of CULI subject to an engagement letter that covers scope of services, fees and any other relevant issues. NOTE: CULI cannot represent clients in the event that there is a conflict of interest. For example, CULI could not represent two clients in a matter in which both are competitively bidding on the same project, or if CULI were already representing the other contracting party.
Turnaround for your contract review will depend on the scope of review an APC is looking for and CULI’s availability. A simple review could allow a turnaround in a couple of days, a more thorough review with modifications could take longer. As no turnaround can be guaranteed without looking at the contract and the request for review, and depending on attorney availability, an APC should contact CULI as soon as possible with:
(a) the type of review wanted;
(b) any specific questions or sections needing review;
(c) the requested turnaround, or deadline;
(d) all other pertinent information; and
(e) contact information.
An APC can contact CULI by e-mailing or faxing the entire contract in question, the information listed above and all questions to our Administrative Assistant Keyia Banks at firstname.lastname@example.org or (860) 570-5368 (fax) and indicating that you are an APC with the Supplier Development Academy. CULI will provide an engagement letter as quickly as possible and review the contract once the engagement letter is executed. All APCs will receive red-lined versions of their contracts with notes (as long as a Word Version is provided to CULI) and we are happy to talk through your concerns as well. Often contract provisions may require a strategic approach to address the risks to both parties, or a more complete understanding of the risk involved may change your perspective on a provision. We can help to assure you understand the expectations in the contract.
The majority of the contract review will be performed by law students, with supervision by our staff attorneys. No fees will be charged for work performed by law students. An APC will be charged $75/hour for any work performed by CULI staff attorneys – and all law student work must be supervised by an attorney. An APC will be invoiced directly with an itemized bill showing both student and attorney hours.