16 September 2010 | Helen Gilbert
IBM and Pfizer are among the big names that have backed a new
website aimed at making it easier for small businesses to compete for contracts
to supply large global companies.
Citigroup, Bank ofAmerica, UPS and AT&T also form part of the consortium, which has created a site designed
to standardise and simplify the application process required for small and
mid-sized US suppliers.
The “Supplier Connection” website, created and maintained by
IBM through a grant of more than $10 million from the IBM International
Foundation, the firm’s not-for-profit arm, is expected to launch in the first
quarter of 2011. It will help suppliers compete for nearly $150 billion in
contracts collectively awarded by those companies anually.
It is hoped the new online service will reduce time, money
and expertise requirements that can deter smaller suppliers pursuing business
with a single large company by providing potential vendors with a single,
streamlined electronic application form, which they need only complete once.
Suppliers will not only have the opportunity to reach US
markets, but could also sell to nearly 200 countries – the number of places
worldwide where the participating companies operate.
Stanley Litow, IBM vice-president of corporate citizenship
and corporate affairs, said opening up new markets for goods and services
through the billions of dollars spent by large companies could be the “fuel
that will allow those small businesses to grow” and help them avoid unnecessary
Large firms will also have easier access to small,
innovative companies that generate new products and services.