Building momentum

Major corporations and diverse suppliers meet at CAMSC Diversity Procurement Fair

May 4, 2018
by Daphne Shih

Image: CAMSC

From the April 2018 print edition

On April 11, Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council (CAMSC) welcomed 400 attendees at the 14th Diversity Procurement Fair.  Representatives from major North American corporations and Aboriginal and minority-owned suppliers had a chance to network and hear from leaders in supplier diversity during the two-day conference.

“This is the only event of its kind to bring corporations and Aboriginal and minority-owned businesses together to offer opportunities for one-on-one meetings to build business partnerships,” said Cassandra Dorrington, President, CAMSC.  “There are also a number of workshops, panel discussions and various networking sessions.”

The Fair kicked off with a networking reception, sponsored by BMO. Its representatives, Agata Gorzelak, Head and Director, Strategy and Integration Procurement, and Catherine Grosz, Manager, Supplier Diversity and Procurement, welcomed the guests of the Procurement Fair and spoke about the developments and achievements in the supplier diversity that has taken place in BMO during the past year.

The reception featured an African youth dance troupe that came all the way from Uganda. The Suubi Fusion Troupe consists of young Cambridge School students that travel around the world to raise funds for girls’ education in Uganda that they themselves would have never been able to afford.

Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, attended the networking reception and extended the greetings of Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario, to Cassandra Dorrington. The Minister was also happy to announce that as of April 1st, the fees for suppliers to bid on government contracts have been eliminated.

The highlights of the Fair included SD Talks featuring representatives from Walker Law, Topnotch (recruitment agency) and LA Metal Stamping. The speakers shared the challenges they faced and the lessons learned on the road to success in supplier diversity.

Under the Fair theme “Building Momentum”, Louis Green, Interim President, National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), U.S. delivered the luncheon keynote address about key NMSDC successes in advancing supplier diversity throughout its nearly 50-year history and highlighted examples with key corporate players.

All levels of Canadian governments participated in this year’s Diversity Procurement Fair. The panel “Navigating the Government Procurement Process” provided valuable information for suppliers who were willing to learn all the ins and outs of doing business with governments. Tracy MacCharles, Minister of Government and Consumer Services, recognized CAMSC’s effort of advancing economic growth of the Canadian supply chain through the inclusion of Aboriginals and Minority suppliers.

The Fair concluded with the popular Meeting Marketplace, which provided corporate members with the opportunity to meet and recruit prospective Aboriginal and minority-owned suppliers. EY, FCA, GM, PepsiCo, TELUS, Toyota, and RBC were among those potential buyers that suppliers had the opportunity to meet. More than half a billion dollars’ worth of business is contracted annually by CAMSC’s members and the Fair is a major forum to start business partnerships.

Daphne Shih is director, business development and partnerships with CAMSC.