WASHINGTON — March 20, 2008 — Tonight Microsoft Corp. will chair the annual Salute to Women’s Business Enterprises gala hosted by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). Through its sponsorship of WBENC’s gala The Power of Progress 2008, Microsoft highlights the important contributions of women-owned business to the American economy.
The number of women and minority business enterprises (W/MBEs) has grown substantially in the past few years. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women-owned businesses increased 20 percent between 1997 and 2002 and the amount of revenue they generated increased 15 percent.
“At Microsoft we believe that for us to truly serve the diverse communities in which we live and work, our supplier base has to be diverse,” said Tim McBride, chief procurement officer for Microsoft. “Microsoft has been a devoted supporter of WBENC since 2003, and we are privileged to sponsor this year’s event.”
In March 2007, the Northwest Minority Business Council presented Microsoft with the prestigious Corporation of the Year Award in recognition of the company’s exemplary achievements in minority business development and supplier diversity efforts. More recently, Microsoft was awarded the Business Consortium Fund (BCF) Inc.’s Star Award in recognition of its support of minority business enterprises, highlighted by its change of a $3 million loan to the BCF to a grant that gives minority business enterprises greater access to capital.
Microsoft is committed to a strong, diverse supplier base and spends approximately $830 million each year with more than 1,200 diverse businesses. It plans to substantially increase the number of services obtained from diverse suppliers and is working on many fronts with other companies to increase access to opportunities for W/MBEs. Such initiatives are as follows:
Presenting the 2008 Microsoft Small Business Summit, March 24–27. This free online event provides valuable small-business programming designed to make the multiple hats that entrepreneurs wear each day fit more comfortably. More information is available at https://www.sbsummit.com/Default.aspx.
Giving a software donation worth $150,000 to WBENC at its national conference. This technology donation assists in the organization’s goal of expanding opportunities and eliminating barriers in the marketplace for women business owners.
Hosting the Second National Diversity in Business Research Conference with the University of Washington (UW). This conference in June will bring together the nation’s leading and emerging researchers to discuss how to improve the success rates of minority- and women-owned businesses and to increase the ability of corporations to reach a diverse customer base.
Being a founding sponsor of UW’s Minority Business Executive Program. Launching in June, this program will link UW Business School’s Business and Economic Development Center with members of the business and nonprofit communities to expand business owners’ knowledge and assist minority-owned businesses to develop and grow.