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Tee Talent, a social enterprise based in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.

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A Great Opportunity for Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Through Inclusive Supply Chain

December 2, 2016



This is a simple, but smart, example of how entrepreneurship can change our society for good. 


Last week, I was invited to be a part of a workshop presented by the Royal Bank of Canada, in Downtown Toronto. The workshop  introduced a program that aims to include companies operated by entrepreneurs, who are considered to be minorities as their suppliers (example: LGBT, aboriginals and people with disabilities). This practice is called Inclusive Supply Chain


I found a more precise explanation on The Canadian Aboriginal & Minority Supplier Council (CAMSC) website about inclusive supply chain:


“It is an initiative by corporations to ensure they are being inclusive in their supply chain practices to suppliers of diverse backgrounds, while at the same time capitalizing on the opportunity for competitive advantage and community engagement that comes from working more closely with a broader range of aboriginal and minority suppliers.”


This is a fantastic idea. At Tee Talent, a company run by individuals with disabilities, where we are trying to sell our custom t-shirt services to medium and large corporations, we have never heard of such an initiative prior to this conference. To sell services to large corporations can be nearly impossible for small companies like ours, but, with this opportunity, things can really change.


As I understood, this initiative is also being explored by TD Bank, Sodexo and Staples. For example, Staples has been doing this for a while in the USA. They include companies in their supply chain,  run by veterans with disabilities. But why are these big corporations engaging in this practice? Well, I've found an interesting answer to this question from Staples Australia:


“Addressing social issues through supplier diversity presents opportunities for your business to demonstrate core competencies while showing everyone how innovative you are and how you support Australian communities. So, you not only boost your reputation, but also shine a spotlight on what your company does best.”


To become part of this program, the supplier needs to be certified by an accredited institution. After that, the company will have access to networking events to not only meet potential clients, but exchange experiences with other companies that are part of the program.


Although being part of this program can open doors, once you are in, it is business as usual, which means, you must meet their qualitative and quantitative requirements. What needs to be clear is that this is not charity. This is a way to impact the local communities in a positive way. In other words, before joining a program like this, the supplier must make sure that, besides its social impact, a competitive product/service is being offered for a reasonable price.


I hope this kind of initiative spreads among small and medium enterprises as well. I believe that this can be an incentive to many talented individuals with disabilities to establish their own enterprise and start to deal with these buyers that have inclusive supply chain as part of their corporate culture. This is a simple, but smart, example on how entrepreneurship can change our society for good. 



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