Increasingly, higher education procurement leaders are focusing on supplier diversity to meet federal regulations, contribute to institutional mission, and give back to their surrounding communities. But many procurement leaders struggle to move the needle on increasing spend with diverse suppliers for three reasons. One, diverse vendors are often unfamiliar with sourcing opportunities with colleges and universities. Two, vendors often lack the business experience to navigate highly competitive bidding environments dominated by mainstream suppliers. Finally, individual and unit buyers across campus are not always aware of institutional diversity goals and of the alternative vendor options available to them.

The Business Affairs Forum‘s 2018 Procurement Implementation Collaborative profiled higher education procurement divisions who have effectively tackled some of these challenges—including the University of Florida. In UF’s Mentor-Protégé program, small, women-owned, and minority (SWaM) businesses owners develop skills, strategies, and networks that enable them to effectively compete on university contracts and successfully navigate sourcing opportunities. As a result of this program and other UF procurement initiatives, 30% of overall UF spend is now with SWaM businesses.

Read more about the University of Florida’s Vendor Diversity Mentor-Protégé program.