|HOUSTON – Representatives from the City of Houston’s Office of Business Opportunity (OBO) and KIPP Texas Public Schools are working together to advance contracting opportunities for minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) in Houston and across Texas.
Research shows minority and women entrepreneurs face three distinct challenges: limited access to capital, limited access to business networks, and limited opportunity for business skills development. In addition, minority-owned businesses have disproportionately suffered during the pandemic. According to a study from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, minority-owned businesses are feeling a greater impact from the pandemic, report assistance being more vital, and have heightened concern about the pandemic’s impact.
The OBO-KIPP Texas Contractor Diversity Initiative will provide MWBE suppliers in the City of Houston’s Certified Firm Directory access and opportunities to provide products and services throughout KIPP Texas as either prime contractors or subcontractors.
KIPP Texas is an open-enrollment, public, tuition-free charter school network of 59 schools with nearly 34,000 pre-K-12 students across the state. KIPP Texas’s student population is 98% Latinx, Black, and Asian.
Each year KIPP Texas spends more than $300M to educate students in contracts for construction, equipment, and materials. The organization is committed to providing businesses owned by Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and women with contracting opportunities to provide products and services throughout the organization as either prime contractors or subcontractors. Throughout the year, OBO will also have a presence in KIPP’s outreach events for construction projects that require MWBE representation, as well as its supplier networking and meet and greet events.
“Houston is home to highly qualified contractors from all walks of life who are ready to perform high-quality work,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “Programs like this provide opportunity and strengthen our neighborhoods by ensuring equity in business opportunities.”
In addition to being eligible to meet required MWBE goals on City contracts, firms certified by the City of Houston have a myriad of opportunities for contracting with other agencies in the public and private sector, including KIPP.
“With the OBO-KIPP Texas Contractor Diversity Initiative, we are looking forward to seeing substantial growth in the number of contracts awarded to our pool of certified firms, as well as to creating peer mentorship programming to enhance the pipeline of qualified MWBE suppliers in construction,” said OBO Director Marsha E. Murray.
“KIPP Texas has an unwavering commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We are excited to partner with the Office of Business Opportunity to provide contracting opportunities for small business owners, which has a direct impact on our students, their families, and the communities we serve,” said KIPP Texas Public Schools Chief Operating Officer Kris Cheung. “We look forward to collaborating with a more diverse group of suppliers, vendors, and strategic partners. This partnership will allow our procurement team to reach new MWBE businesses in Houston and throughout Texas. We are excited to embark on this journey and leverage OBO’s vast network of certified firms.”
For more information about procurement at KIPP Texas, go to Procurement | KIPP Texas Public Schools. To learn more about Certification at the City of Houston, go to www.houstontx.gov/obo and click on the Certifications tab.