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Changing the Language: “Growth Market Enterprises”

Content provided by the Women's Business Enterprise National Council

As we begin to dig deeper into the supplier diversity landscape, it is important to pause for a moment to define our terms. Thus far I have referred to “woman- and minorityowned businesses,” a somewhat unwieldy phrase that begs the question, What if a business owner is both a woman and a minority? The nation’s Latina business owners—a group starting businesses at a whopping six times the rate of all other companies—would certainly question this limiting terminology. WBENC-certified business owner Annette Taddeo, CEO of LanguageSpeak, Inc., resents even the term “minority” and states, “There is nothing minor about me.”

Consider this comprehensive list of the current supplier diversity categories. Notice the breadth, and complexity, of the current terminology:

Cheat Sheet: Supplier Diversity Classifications


Minority Business Enterprise (MBE): A for-profit enterprise currently located in the United States or its trust territories, and is at least 51 percent owned by African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian-Indian Americans or Asian-Pacific Americans. Individual(s) must be involved in the day-to-day management of the business. African Americans are U.S. citizens whose origins are in any Black racial groups of Africa. Hispanic Americans are U.S. citizens whose origins are in South America, Central America, Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, or the Iberian Peninsula, including Portugal. Native Americans are American Indians, Inuit, Aleuts, and Native Hawaiians. Asian-Indian Americans are U.S. citizens whose origins are in India, Pakistan, angladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, or Nepal. Asian-Pacific Americans are U.S. citizens whose origins are in Japan, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Korea, Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (Republic of Palau), the Northern Mariana Islands, Laos, Kampuchea (Cambodia), Taiwan, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei, Republic of the Marshall Islands, or the Federated States of Micronesia.

Woman Business Enterprise (WBE): A for-profit enterprise currently located in the United States or its trust territories, and is at least 51 percent owned, controlled, and operated by a woman or women of U.S. citizenship. Individual(s) must be involved in the day-to-day management of the business. Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE): A small business owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, primarily minorities and women.

Disabled Business Enterprise: A for-profit enterprise currently located in the United States or its trust territories, and is at least 51 percent owned by an individual(s) of U.S. citizenship with a permanent physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of such persons’ major life activities. Individual(s) must be involved in the day-to-day management of the business.

Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise (DVBE): A for-profit enterprise currently located in the United States or its trust territories, and is at least 51 percent owned by an individual(s) who has performed active service in one of the United States armed services and is disabled as defined above. Individual(s) must be involved in the day-to-day management of the business.

Veteran Owned Small Business (VOSB): A small business (as defined pursuant to Section 3 of the Small Business Act) currently located in the United States or its trust territories, and is at least 51 percent owned by an individual(s) who has performed active service in one of the United States armed services.

HUBZone (HUB): A small business located in a HUBZone (Historically Underutilized Business Zone), owned and controlled by one or more U.S. citizens, with at least 35 percent of its employees residing in a HUBZone. (To learn if you are located in a HUBZone, visit http://map.sba.gov/hubzone/init.asp#address.)

- Adapted from the Citigroup Supplier Diversity Website
www.citigroup.com/citigroup/corporate/supplier_diversity/def.htm

Complicated, right? With this book I propose renaming all of the above-mentioned businesses as Growth Market Enterprises (GMEs). This term captures the present and future of the new face of business in America. Growth Market Enterprise also communicates the powerful role these diverse businesses play in the economic health of our nation today and into the future. The new name also provides a realistic and positive descriptive that connotes business capability, progress and deliverability. These businesses are not “disadvantaged” or “minor,” but represent the new demographic landscape of both America’s business community and the country’s consumer base. They reflect the diversity and promise of our country.

Furthermore, GME incorporates women, minority and other identifications, combining several very powerful communities and building strength in our combined numbers.

The Case for “Growth Market Enterprise”
A 2004 survey of WBENC corporate members and certified WBEs found strong support for a change in terminology:

• 89 percent of WBEs would prefer to identify themselves as a Growth Market Enterprise (rather than a WBE) when introducing themselves to potential clients or bidding for contracts.
• 96 percent of WBEs believe the term Growth Market Enterprise makes the best impression on new or potential clients/customers (compared to the term WBE).
• When asked about a range of positive characteristics that might describe Growth Market Enterprises and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises, only a quarter (25 percent) of WBEs would characterize a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise as “expert in its field,” compared to more than two thirds (68 percent) who would characterize a Growth Market Enterprise as “expert in its field.”

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