The BRIDGE Accelerator Helping Close the Opportunity Gap in Construction
Women and people of color are starting businesses at faster rates than that of all businesses, but they still face greater barriers to securing investment funding and loans, building connections with corporate customers and gaining access to strategic networks that can enable their businesses to thrive. The challenges can be even greater in industries like construction where only about 10% of those working in the field are women and only 13% of construction-related companies are owned by women.
To address these challenges and accelerate progress for women and underrepresented founders working in these industries, Monica Motivates, LLC, has launched The BRIDGE, our supplier diversity accelerator specifically tailored to be a Blueprint for Commercial Real Estate Innovation, Development, Growth & Engagement. The BRIDGE provides the strategic framework for minority suppliers to realize new business opportunities and win corporate contracts.
The BRIDGE and Microsoft partner for progress
Microsoft recently launched a Global Supplier Diversity Program to broaden their business with and expand opportunities for diverse firms serving the corporate real estate industry. Then, they tapped Monica Motivates and The BRIDGE accelerator to help operationalize their goals. Microsoft is committed to making positive contributions to the real estate industry and in the communities where they operate.
Just in our inaugural year, working in concert with Microsoft, The BRIDGE has already graduated 18 founders from its first two cohorts. Participants were comprised of 80% women and 100% founders of color. These ambitious business owners represent a wide range of solutions for the real estate, construction and facilities industries including general contracting, land use and environment testing, project management, cleaning, electrical contracting, design and real estate development.
Intensive curriculum drives growth
Participants engaged in a three-month immersive learning experience designed specifically for current and potential suppliers in the construction, real estate and facilities industries. With a combination of live and self-paced learning, the curriculum includes ten unique modules with content ranging from understanding supplier diversity to financial acumen and how to present and pitch your business.
Participants also gain an understanding of why large companies want to expand their relationships with diverse suppliers, corporate programs targeted to those goals, and how to gain access to companies seeking their services. The program culminates with a live pitch session to a major corporation. Every participant in our inaugural cohorts formally pitched their business to Microsoft leaders.
A network of expertise and connection
In addition to learning from the faculty experts, each founder brought her or his own diverse experiences to the group, contributing extensive knowledge of their field and insights from their experience as business owners. Participants ranged from those in the earliest stages of launching their businesses to those ready for the next phase of growth.
Completing the program has equipped the participants not only with deeper and broader knowledge, but also valuable connections to other business owners, an understanding of how to compete for contracts with large companies, and the confidence to pursue their dreams.
“I received three new contracts since the start of the program and hired two full-time employees,” said Tonya L. Hicks, founder of Power Solutions, Inc. “I also recently completed a joint venture and the learnings from The BRIDGE helped with the negotiations.” The knowledge and insights she gained also prompted Hicks to reconstruct her business plan, pare down her pitch and transition to a new accounting service to better meet her needs at a lower cost.
Founder of SLADE Land Use, Environmental and Transportation Planning, LLC, L’Tryce Slade, is already working on a joint opportunity with a fellow BRIDGE participant and discussing international opportunities with her BRIDGE colleagues. “The program material was exceptional and stands out among other program course materials,” she said.
Other participants have set goals to be more intentional about networking, build their financial understanding and use what they’ve learned to proactively pursue opportunities with large companies.
We are so proud of our first BRIDGE graduates and excited about the opportunities they will have to become part of a growing pipeline of diverse suppliers serving Corporate America. We look forward to building on this momentum and continuing to serve as a catalyst for the development of underrepresented small business owners across Atlanta and beyond.
To learn more about participating in this powerful program, please contact us at Monica Motivates to connect with The BRIDGE supplier diversity accelerator to grow your business, or to engage your corporate organization with diverse suppliers ready to provide important products and services to meet your needs.