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MSD China and Minority-Owned Business Development

Rengen Li
Global Supplier Diversity Manager
The Coca-Cola Company

Business ownership has been a proven success in improving individuals’ income and living standards across the world. More importantly, successful businessmen become the role models in the local communities and encourage more entrepreneurship. They leave the money and jobs in the communities, and therefore, revitalize local communities and ensure their prosperity. As local businesses become successful and continue to grow, they become a large marketplace for produces and services that offered by major corporations such as fast moving consumer products companies, banks and other financial institutions, high tech companies, package delivery and supply chain services companies. Meanwhile, they also need to have access to opportunities from large corporations and capability to do business with these large companies in China or in the world. Here is where MSD China comes in.

MSD China facilitates the business relationship between large Chinese or international corporations and ethnic minority owned companies. This has two areas of focus. On one hand, it helps the large corporations to have access to the vast network of ethnic minority owned businesses in China both from procurement and perspective. On the other hand, it provides opportunities for ethnic minority owned businesses to gain access to the procurement opportunities at large corporations, and it also helps develop these minority owned business enterprises’ (MBEs) so that they can successfully bid and execute contracts with their large customers.

MSD China will need to help the procurement professionals to understand the cultural differences and to learn how to do business with smaller, ethnically diverse companies. It will also benchmark and promote best practices in the area of purchasing goods and services from minority owned businesses and of assisting minority business growth. Equally important, MSD China will create and implement programs that aim to develop the capability and capacity of minority owned businesses. This development effort can take many different approaches and in many content areas.

In terms of capability development, MSD China will need to educate and train smaller minority owned businesses in many areas, among which are: 

● Human resources management
● Financial, specially cash flow, management
● Supply chain management
● Quality system development
● Globalization
● Sales and marketing
● Social responsibility and sustainability

In terms of capacity development, MSD China will need to facilitate strategic alliances, partnerships, joint ventures, and even merger and acquisitions by minority owned businesses.

Capability and capacity building is more than a training class, a workshop, a seminar, or a conference. We will need to utilize a combination of all of these and many other methods. For example, executive coaching and supplier mentoring should be considered for their direct and immediate impact on the business owners and executives.

MSD China is new and has undertaken a major initiative to have a great impact on millions of people’s lives and their communities and on the corporate sustainability practices in China. We will face many challenges but we are confident that MSD China will achieve great successes.  

About the author

Rengen Li is Manager for Global Supplier Diversity at The Coca-Cola Company. In this capacity, he strives to ensure equal procurement opportunities for minority and women owned companies. During the last 8 years, he has worked closely with executives and colleagues at the company and helped to increase diversity spend by more than 600%. He is a strong advocate for and very active in the diverse business communities at the local, regional, and national levels. He has received numerous accolades including Top 50 Asian Americans in Business by the Asian American Business Development Center in New York; 100 Men Impacting Supplier Diversity by Minority Business News; Civil Rights and Diversity Award from Dallas-Fort Worth Asian American Citizens Council; Advocate of Year from Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council and US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce based in Washington, DC. He was the founding chair for the USPAACC (Southeast) in 2004. Currently, he chairs the board for Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council and serves on several boards of advocacy organizations such as USPAACC-SE, Florida Minority Supplier Development Council, and Supplier Diversity Group of the Institute for Supply Management. Dr. Li is a popular presenter and panelist at numerous conferences on supply chain diversity and minority and women owned business development.

Prior to his current role, he was Director for Training for Coca-Cola China Limited, stationed in Shanghai, China. Prior to that, he worked for many years at the Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education, responsible for developing and implementing computer-based training programs including projects for General Mills and Anheuser-Busch.

A native of China, he received his MBA from Georgia State University, MS from Indiana University, and a Ph.D. from Florida State University.