Building on its fourth-quarter success in 2009, the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce® (NGLCC) and its first founding partner, IBM, have announced the expansion of the NGLCC/IBM Business Development Scholarship.

The scholarship is designed to foster business development for eligible GLBT-owned businesses seeking certification for the first time by underwriting all or part of the cost of certification.

"Together with IBM, we are sincere about doing all we can to foster economic growth and opportunity for GLBT business owners during these difficult economic times," said Jeremy Fegley, certification specialist and manager of supplier diversity at the NGLCC. "Certification is a key tool in securing new clients and taking your business to the next level."

Certification allows businesses that are at least 51-percent owned, operated and controlled by an GLBT person or persons to become a part of the diverse supply chain at America's top corporations.

“Corporate America wants to buy goods and services from LGBT businesses like they do from other diverse segments,” said Fegley. Getting certified allows GLBT businesses to be found Fegley noted.

NGLCC certification is the third nationally recognized certification alongside the National Minority Council (NMSDC) and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (NMSDC), the certifying organizations for ethnic minority- and women-owned businesses, respectively. The NGLCC Supplier Diversity Initiative (SDI) offers businesses a tool to make connections and open doors with America's top corporations and each other. The SDI certifies LGBT-owned Business Enterprises (GLBTBEs) and works to provide opportunities for GLBTBEs to gain exposure within corporate procurement processes.

In addition to certification, the NGLCC SDI offers a host of opportunities to enhance visibility with corporations and other GLBT owned businesses seeking to do business with GLBT suppliers. Corporations can search for certified GLBTBEs through the NGLCC’s exclusive GLBT supplier database and certified suppliers can meet face-to-face with corporate buyers at matchmaking events held across the country and at the NGLCC’s annual conference. Certified LGBTBEs are also eligible for additional scholarship programs, mentorship and leadership training, and other business development tools to help GLBT businesses grow.

"Columbia Consulting is proof that the system works," said Sam Lehman, co-founder of Columbia Consulting Group. "We signed a deal with a Fortune 100 company as a result of our association with NGLCC."

GLBT business owners can learn more about the scholarship and certification process here or by contacting the NGLCC supplier diversity team at or 202-234-9181.


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