New customers are the lifeblood of any business. A matchmaking event on May 11 at the Heifer International headquarters in Little Rock will offer minority and women-owned businesses a chance to meet potential clients, at the Minority-Owned Business Matchmaking Event and to women.
Participation is free, but registration is compulsory. The keynote speaker for the event is Sidney Moncrief, five-time NBA All-Star, former Arkansas Razorback, motivational speaker, author and founder of Moncrief One Team and Moncrief Game Changer, Inc., which strives to provide unique experiences to enhance student learning.
The annual event will include 15-minute matchmaking appointments where business owners can discuss possible contracts for their goods and services. Business owners will be matched with purchasing representatives based on the information provided during registration.
The event is presented by a partnership between the Arkansas Procurement Technical Assistance Center, or Arkansas PTAC, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, and the Arkansas District Office of the Small Businesses Administration. The Arkansas PTAC is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agricultural Cooperative Extension Service.
Liz Russell, Arkansas PTAC Advisor for the Division of Agriculture, also offers a May 5 webinar with tips for navigating the matchmaking event. Topics include the role of certifications, vendor registration sites, market research sources, and marketing tools specific to the government market. As with the May 11 event, participation in the webinar is free, but registration is required.
“Underserved small businesses have historically faced barriers to accessing credit, capital and other tools needed to grow,” Berman said. “They are often located in inner cities and rural areas and often include people of color, women, veterans, tribal groups and others. Attending the annual Minority and Women-Owned Business Matchmaking event will allow business owners to network with government buyers, small business support organizations, such as the Arkansas PTAC, as well as other businesses in the region.
Arkansas PTAC advisors will also teach a Government Contracting 101 class at the event, which will focus on selling to both the state of Arkansas and the federal government.
Berman said former event attendees have emerged with new contracts and promising relationships.
“Companies that meet buyers leave the event with government contracting opportunities,” she said. “Those who were unable to sign a contract for goods or services following the matchmaking event have at least met a government buyer and know what they are looking for when it comes to the small business industry. This helps them to be better prepared next time.