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SAVE THE DATE: Federal supply chain summit for Black entrepreneurs, women of colour, and more takes place April 4-5

The Diversifying the Federal Supply Chain Summit will take place on April 4 and 5.

SAVE THE DATE: Federal supply chain summit for Black entrepreneurs, women of colour, and more takes place April 4-5
The Office of the Procurement Ombudsman (OPO) will host the federal supply chain summit for Black entrepreneurs and women of colour, and other groups looking for equity in the federal procurement process. UNSPLASH PHOTO 

The Diversifying the Federal Supply Chain Summit will take place on April 4 and 5.

The two-day event, hosted by the Office of the Procurement Ombudsman (OPO), will provide Black and racialized entrepreneurs with access to information about supplier council programs, supply chain representatives from the Government of Canada, and more.

“The main goal of the Summit is to help address the systemic barriers that exist and help diverse- and Indigenous-owned businesses win federal contracts,” Alexander Jeglic, Canada's procurement ombudsman, told Black Magazine. “Although OPO does not set numeric targets for federal government contracting, we hope to see a supply chain that roughly represents the fabric of all Canadians.”

At a time when Indigenous businesses and supply vendors have five per cent of Canada’s federal procurement share, the government is looking at ways to establish a portion for Black-owned businesses, and those owned by women, two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and additional sexually and gender diverse people (2SLGBTQI+) Canadians.

“In that vein, we are actively pushing for baseline data to understand how many diverse suppliers are already in the supply chain. Once this information is known, we will actively encourage the government to aggressively increase this number. The current (Trudeau) government has put forth a requirement that five per cent of the value of each department's procurements must be with Indigenous suppliers. At this point, no similar target exists for black suppliers,” he added.

The Canadian federal government spends more than $23 billion in goods and services annually, according to stats from the Office of the Procurement Ombudsman.

Last year, more than 850 organizations participated. Those interested can register here.

This year, visitors will have access to groups that include:

Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub
Black Entrepreneurs and Businesses of Canada Society (BEBC)
Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)
Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council (CAMSC)
Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB)
Canada's LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC)
Federation of African Canadian Economics (FACE)
Inclusive Workplace & Supply Council of Canada (IWSCC)
National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association (NACCA)
Procurement Strategy for Indigenous Business (PSIB)
Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC)
Procurement Assistance Canada (PAC)
Scale-up Initiative from Shared Services Canada and TECHNATION
Women Business Enterprises Canada (WBE)
Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH)

“Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has further brought to light the existing systemic barriers faced by Black entrepreneurs, other under-represented businesses, and small and medium-sized business owners in Canada, which may also explain the creation of new federal programs and a reaffirmed commitment from the government to work closely with Black business owners and Black-led organizations across Canada so that those programs reflect the realities and needs of Black Canadians,” Jeglic said.

Since 2020, the federal government has announced more than $220 million in investments for the Black community, including $93 million for the Black Entrepreneurship Program (BEP), which will provide funding and support to thousands of Black entrepreneurs, a statement reads.

It has also partnered with financial institutions on the BEP and Black organizations.