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Mentor-protégé program provides opportunities for M/WBE participants

Recent graduates of the Interagency Mentor-Protégé Program (IMPP) had the opportunity to meet and speak one-on-one with HISD Procurement professionals today during a networking event hosted by HISD’s Business Assistance Supplier Diversity department. The IMPP —a collaboration between HISD, the City of Houston, the Port of Houston Authority, and the Metropolitan Transit Authority (METRO) — exists to strengthen working relationships and foster long-term stability between established companies and emerging minority- and women-owned business enterprises (M/WBEs). Participants, known as protégés, apply in the spring and, if selected, are paired with a mentor and embark on an eight-week program designed to enhance their business skills.

The program focuses on topics such as understanding of financials, how to successfully bid on jobs, and how to do business with local government agencies. “It’s been enlightening, so valuable. I would highly recommend it to others,” said Shearrard Thomas, president and CEO of LyncVerse Technologies and a recent IMPP grad. “You start a small business kind of in a bubble, coming at it from just your vantage point. I learned that others can bring good points I never thought of so it’s really helpful to incorporate feedback from various sources.” Thomas said he is currently working on a joint proposal to submit to a local agency, which he believes is much stronger due to this collaborative approach. He’s also looking forward to more networking opportunities such as today’s event and hopes to help other small businesses along the way.

“There’s definitely a ‘pay it forward’ feeling that comes out,” Thomas said. “If I can help others how I’ve been helped, I would absolutely want to do that.” More information on the IMPP including participant requirements “HISD is committed to providing opportunities and assistance to M/WBEs to do business with us,” said Alexis Licata, general manager of business assistance. “Participating in the IMPP and networking events such as this are great ways to get started.” For more information on upcoming workshops and networking opportunities hosted by HISD, contact the Business Assistance Supplier Diversity office at 713-556-7273.

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