MSDUK announces supplier diversity award winners at 2018 Awards Dinner

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Cassandra Rennie, winner of MSDUK Supplier Diversity Advocate award

The winners of the UK’s most prestigious supplier diversity awards were revealed last week (Wednesday 26th September) at a glittering ceremony at Birmingham’s Vox Conference Centre.

The annual MSDUK Conference and Awards is a must-attend event for Ethnic Minority Businesses looking to drive inclusive procurement and connect with diverse like-minded businessmen and women. This year’s event saw over 1,000 entrepreneurs, exhibitors and supplier diversity leaders gather to honour the efforts of both large corporations and ethnic minority owned businesses in making supply chains both inclusive and competitive.

The MSDUK Awards 2018 were split into six categories:

–          Scale Up Business (sponsored by the Coca-Cola Company)

–          Inclusive Procurement

–          Supplier Diversity Advocate (sponsored by AgileOne)

–          Supplier Diversity Excellence (sponsored by Gibbs Hybrid)

–          Businesswoman of the Year (sponsored by EY)

–          Entrepreneur of the Year (sponsored by EY)

Blue-collar recruitment agency Fortel Services and Clinical Research Organisation (CRO) Clintec International were named joint winners of the Scale Up Business Award, an award which recognises businesses that have shown significant demonstrable growth over the last two financial years within their specific marketplace.

The Inclusive Procurement Award, awarded to a British public or private sector purchasing organisation outside of the MSDUK network that demonstrates the strongest commitment to supply chain diversity, was handed to HS2 – the UK’s imminent high-speed railway and the largest infrastructure project in Europe.

Paul Harvey, Head of Procurement at Marsh & McLennan Companies, and Cassandra Rennie, UKI Operations and Sustainability Senior Analyst at Accenture, were named joint winners of the Supplier Diversity Advocate Award for their commitment, passion and hard work to promote diversity and inclusion within their organisation’s supply chain; while national energy supplier EDF Energy picked up the Supplier Diversity Excellence Award in recognition of its exceptional leadership in supplier diversity.

Raj Tulsiani, CEO of Interim Management and Executive Search firm Green Park was crowned Entrepreneur of the Year in celebration of his longstanding commitment to supplier diversity and for “setting a new benchmark for the recruitment industry that widens the gate without lowering the bar”.

Concluding the dazzling awards ceremony, Farida Gibbs, CEO of Gibbs Hybrid, which provides single-source integrated Talent Management Services, Programme Consultancy and Outsourcing Solutions to mid-market and FORTUNE 500 companies, received the prestigious accolade of Businesswoman of the Year in recognition of her “dynamic, creative and visionary” leadership.

Delegates enjoyed a stellar line-up of speakers including Janice Bryant Howroyd, the first African American woman to build a $1bn business; Channel 4 news presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy; stand-up comedian Ava Vidal; Ebookers founder Dinesh Dhamija and Accenture CPO Kai Nowosel, before being treated to a sumptuous Awards Dinner sponsored by Barclays.

The two-day event (25th-26th September) concluded with the hotly anticipated Awards Reception sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline.

Mayank Shah, CEO of MSDUK, said: “This year’s awards were driven by the idea that innovation through diversity will be what powers the UK economy over the next decade. All of our award finalists are living proof of this principle, and long may their commitment to supply chain diversity continue.

“Our warmest congratulations go to the winners of the MSDUK Awards 2018. They deserve these awards for the outstanding and important work they do”.

Farida Gibbs, MSDUK Businesswoman of the Year and CEO of Gibbs Hybrid, said: “I am thrilled to be named MSDUK Businesswoman of the Year. I’ve never considered myself to be an ‘entrepreneur’ – I am someone who loves what they do with great passion. I didn’t do well at school, an illness at the age of 15 saw me in and out of hospitals and I left school with 2 GCSE’s. I felt like a failure. I truly believe this is one of the reasons why I push the boundaries, am tenacious, never give up, take a leap of faith (self-belief) to prove that I am successful and can be successful if I put my mind to it”.

She added: “My upbringing has taught me to be a great leader for my team, to lead by example, build a team who share the same common purpose and outlook on life. Whatever I set my mind to do, I do. Whatever we dream, our vision is all within our reach”.

The 2018 MSDUK Award Winners in full:

Scale Up Business


Fortel Services

Clintec International

Inclusive Procurement



Supplier Diversity Advocate


Paul Harvey, Marsh & McLennan Companies

Cassandra Rennie, Accenture

Supplier Diversity Excellence


EDF Energy

Businesswoman of the Year


Farida Gibbs, Gibbs Hybrid

Entrepreneur of the Year


Raj Tulsiani, Green Park




Flushable and biodegradable sanitary products take MSDUK Innovation Challenge title

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A start-up business that makes the world’s first safely-flushable and biodegradable sanitary products has been crowned as the winner of the MSDUK Innovation Challenge.

Polipop received the accolade at a glittering awards ceremony in Birmingham last week as part of a two-day conference celebrating supply chain diversity – MSDUK 2018.

Over 600 delegates, 200 entrepreneurs, 100 buyers, 60 exhibitors, 40 global brands and 50 supplier diversity leaders attended the event, whilst a select panel of investors and supply chain experts heard pitches from 12 exciting new businesses aiming impress them with their innovative ideas and win the MSDUK Innovation Challenge.

This year’s prizes include scholarships worth $10,000 to the prestigious Ivy League Tuck School of Business in the USA, funding opportunities, a place on Accenture’s Development programme and mentoring pitch workshops with international motivational speaker David McQueen.

Polipop have developed pads that break apart down any toilet within minutes. They are 100% biodegradable and body-safe, are plant-based and contain zero parabens or perfumes.

Olivia Ahn, Co-Founder at Polipop said;

‘We are thrilled to have won and to now be able to go to Tuck Business School next year along with RAB Microfludics and Twipes. This prize is unique amongst innovation challenges, in that the business course based in New Hampshire will enable us to not only further the start-up but also to explore the American approach to entrepreneurship.

‘’Being a London-based start-up, we have worked with many British and European mentors and advisers. We look forward to exploring the American market and audience whilst in America, and of course, putting into practice what we learn at Tuck Business School.

‘’Working with the other finalists throughout the innovation challenge showed us the calibre, talent and passion in the teams behind the start-ups. It was inspiring to learn from each other and to be announced as the winner was an incredible honour.’’

Mayank Shah, CEO of MSDUK said:

“Innovation through diversity is set to power the UK economy over the next decade and this was the mantra behind this year’s Conference and Awards. For over 10 years, MSDUK have been dedicated to improving diversity in entrepreneurship and driving inclusive procurement.

‘’We believe that supplier diversity is an economic and moral imperative. Innovation comes from a diversity of perspectives, so when we limit who can contribute, we in turn limit what problems we can solve. The calibre of the finalists this year was incredibly high and I am sure we will be hearing about all of them in the very near future but for the judges this year, Polipop was the outstanding business, along with the runners up, RAB Microfludics and Twipes.’’

This year’s finalists in full were:

– Polipop. The first safely-flushable and biodegradable sanitary products

– Twipes, which manufactures the world’s only truly flushable wipes

– RAB-Microfluidics, the company which downscales whole laboratory protocols onto a glass microchip

– ThingTtrax, which specialises in Internet of Things manufacturing machines and brings disconnected machines online

– Hello Daisy Life, which provides set top boxes and networks for the elderly

– The Cheeky Panda, which connects carbon neutral, ultra-sensitive healthy bamboo tissue products

– Medixus, a company which connects healthcare workers across Africa

– Zingr, which provides financial inclusion for the unbanked and underbanked in developing countries;

– Audiowings, the specialist in smart headphones for workouts

– Envirup, a company which provides insulated sidings systems for difficult-to-insulate homes

– Mother Nature’s making refreshing drinks that are inspired by flavours from a diverse range of cultures

Unlocking Innovation Through Diversity: Nominations Open For The MSDUK Innovation Challenge

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Nominations have opened for the MSDUK Innovation Challenge 2018, a pitching competition that aims to provide opportunities for ethnic minority entrepreneurs in the UK with an innovative idea, product or technology. The Innovation Challenge which is open to individual entrepreneurs and businesses, is sponsored by Cummins and will take place on 26th September 2018 at the Vox Conference Centre in Birmingham, during the MSDUK Conference & Awards.

On offer are three scholarships to the weeklong residential Executive Business Programme at the Ivy League’s Tuck School of Business in Dartmouth, USA, worth $10,000 each.

The purpose of this year’s Innovation Challenge is to ‘Unlock Innovation Through Diversity’ by highlighting the ground-breaking ideas, business models and products developed by ethnic minority entrepreneurs and providing a platform for them to obtain investment, access to market and expert support.

The ethos behind the Innovation Challenge is to eradicate barriers for aspiring entrepreneurs to spurn new enterprises and provide support for existing ones. The goal is to make innovation and entrepreneurship accessible to all and showcase diversity as key part to achieving this result. In an era where talks around diversity & inclusion are at its zenith, and yet data shows that much more is to be done, this country-wide competition is a unique program actively engaging the diversity agenda & supporting minority-led businesses.

Mayank Shah Founder & CEO of MSDUK commented: “Britain is home to some exceptional ethnic minority entrepreneurs, professionals and individuals that are at the forefront of introducing breakthrough technologies, innovative ideas and new products. However, very little attention is given to diversity within the UK start up community and the difficulties ethnic minority entrepreneurs face in bringing innovative ideas and products to the market. At MSDUK we aim to change that by supporting innovative ethnic minority entrepreneurs and businesses.”

This event will see a panel of judges selecting a winner from the categories below:

*Disruptive Businesses – New Business Models & Solutions Emerging Tech: AI, IoT, 3D Printing, Blockchain, Robotics and more.
*Tech for Good – Healthcare, Education, Future Workforce, Financial Services, Security, Citizen Identity and more.
*Sustainable Futures – Smart Cities, Built Environment, Energy, Renewables, Transport.
*Innovation Wildcard – Creative Industries, Leisure, Entertainment, an innovative idea don’t need to fit a box or category

To apply for the 2018 Innovation Challenge, click here

Closing date for MSDUK Innovation Challenge applications is 20th June 2018.

Click here for more information on the Innovation Challenge

Click here for further information on exhibiting or attending the MSDUK 2018 Conference & Awards

For more information, please contact Ervin Picari:


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MSDUK launches MSD – Europe in an effort to expand opportunity for minority businesses across the continent

The launch of MSD – Europe during the MSDUK 2016 Conference provided one of the many highlights of the three day Conference held in London this September. However, its importance is even greater when taking into consideration what this project aims to achieve and the challenges it has to overcome to become a success. MSD – Europe has often been discussed by various stakeholders that are part of the MSDUK network, the leading non-profit membership organisation driving inclusive procurement in the UK, and has been has been a lifelong ambition of MSDUK Founder and CEO Mayank Shah: ‘Since the inception of MSDUK I have always looked towards Europe with the hope of extending more opportunities to those minority/migrant businesses operating in various European countries and advocating the benefits of inclusive procurement supply chains’.

As Mayank points out, the challenge for expanding into Europe has always been in identifying the right country to start the process. This is because different EU countries compared to the UK have different definitions on ethnicity, and in some, ethnic minorities are not recognised as existing groups. A clear example of this is France which under its egalitarian beliefs treats all citizens the same, refusing to group them into ethnic categories.

For MSD – Europe to become successful in its support of minority businesses it was important that it operated in a country that has embraced multiculturalism and recognises the existence and contribution of its ethnic minority/migrant population and the obvious place to start was Germany. Not only is Germany Europe’s economic powerhouse but it also has a large migrant population that is still growing as a result of the latest wave of immigrants coming into Germany over the last 18 months. Furthermore the country has had a substantial increase in migrant enterprises from 200,000 in the 1990s to 760,000 in 2013. In 2015, of the total number of new businesses, 20% were created by migrants. We believe that MSD – Europe will drive the way for economic and social integration of migrant communities in the country.

MSD – Europe will replicate the work done by MSDUK in Britain in supporting the development of ethnic minority/migrant businesses and entrepreneurs by opening new opportunities and connecting them to large purchasing organisations thus promoting supply chain inclusiveness and diversity. Mayank Shah, CEO of MSDUK says that ‘Germany is only the starting point and our aim is to expand into other European countries within a number of years. We have already started to look towards Ireland and the Nordic countries’.

As population demographics change, EU countries will become more ethnically diverse in the future and today’s majority ethnic groups will no longer comprise a numerical superiority thus is important that ethnic minorities have a stake in the societies they settle. This can be achieved through economic empowerment by providing opportunities for minority/ migrant businesses across the continent and this is what MSD – Europe aims to achieve.

Announcing the MSDUK 2016 Award Winners

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Over 300 guests and hundreds of purchasing organisations from across the world came together to represent and promote the ethnic minority business community at the MSDUK 2016 Awards.

Overlooking the iconic Tower Bridge, the gala ceremony took place at the Grange Tower Bridge with a global audience who reflected how societies, countries and economies around the world are built by people from different backgrounds, cultures and origins working together.

The MSDUK awards honoured and recognised individuals who have shown great passion and belief in ethnic minority businesses by becoming true partners in their success and growth. The awards also celebrated the best of British ethnic minority entrepreneurs who have embraced innovation, achieved consistent growth and are doing this with a responsibility towards society and the environment.

The MSDUK Awards were divided into 5 categories and the winners were

Corporation of the Year sponsored by Gibbs S3


Inclusive Procurement sponsored by IBM 

Skanska UK PLC

Scale up Business sponsored by EY

ClinTec International

Innovation sponsored by Capital One

Bri-Tek Technologies Ltd

Entrepreneur of the Year

Shahid Sheikh of Clifton Packaging Group

We would like to congratulate all our winners!

Supplier Diversity & Inclusion Within Cummins

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At Cummins you appreciate the culture and core values which we are immersed in, we all have a role to play in adopting a growth mind-set to further develop Cummins from a multi-national to a global company. I have been with Cummins for almost 11 years now, and in procurement for a lot more, and have seen great strides taken on many fronts and especially on the journey of diversity and inclusion.  From on-boarding of new employees through to peer group adoption, going from a US based initiative to a truly global program through diversity advocates and champions nurtured in all regions.

At Cummins, we have a long legacy of commitment and recognize diversity as one of our Company’s six core values.  Cummins understands that businesses owned by diverse suppliers help contribute to the overall economic growth and well-being of the communities in which we live and work.  We also understand that establishing strategic partnerships with our suppliers helps create value for our customers and provides us with a competitive advantage.  Collaborating with such businesses to provide goods and services to our company creates a cross-cultural competency that only comes from multiple perspectives.

At the core of Cummins, and embodied in our philosophy is Diversity. Cummins works with suppliers who complement our values and operate across cultures, functions, languages, differing in age, gender, race, nationality, ability and language, as well as in personality, behaviour, sexual orientation and religious beliefs.

My purpose is to seek to align potential diverse and underrepresented supplier groups to Cummins opportunities to enable evaluation and selection of the best suppliers for our businesses. This includes:

  • Creating and implementing a regional diversity and inclusion plan for the purchasing organisations within regions
  • Working with recognised organisations to identify, communicate, educate and select potential suppliers to be included in Cummins sourcing opportunities
  • Participating in, and effectively contributing to, recognised organisation events
  • Networking with other Corporate organisations that are aligned with the same values and philanthropic beliefs to further enhance the diversity and inclusion work within Cummins and other Corporate entities for the benefit of minority groups
  • Communicating the business case for supplier diversity and inclusion internally with all stakeholders at every opportunity to ensure diversity becomes an integral part of the procurement process at all levels.

It is the intent of Cummins that opportunity shall be given to diverse businesses to participate as suppliers and contractors to Cummins in their area of expertise. We are committed to fostering business growth through outreach efforts and supplier development in order to cultivate potential suppliers and to educate them on the Cummins processes so that they have a full understanding and can compete on an equal level.

Cummins is dedicated to working with diverse suppliers that best deliver excellent products and services to our stakeholders.  Through Cummins Diversity Procurement Initiative our goal is to increase purchasing opportunities with diverse suppliers by developing and engaging new and existing diverse suppliers.

I am proud to be a leader in a company that embraces diversity as a core value. I am committed to supporting the work of our Cummins Diversity Procurement Initiative both to help foster diverse and small business development and to ensure that Cummins provides excellent service and the best products to our stakeholders every day.

 By Denis Ford MBA MCIPS Corporate Indirect Purchasing International Leader EMEA, NE/SE Asia & S. Pacific, Cummins

Making Procurement Inclusive for a Stronger and Fairer Economy

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We all buy goods and services, and when we spend our money on these goods and services, it sustains businesses large and small, paying for wages and supporting our economy. In other words, we are always playing an important role in our local, national, and global economy, and each decision we make has an impact, even though we may not think about it most of the time. Using our purchasing power as individuals and businesses to improve society is an easy win for everyone.

This is at the heart of why ten years ago I founded MSDUK, the UK’s leading non-profit organisation driving inclusive procurement. Just as our individual purchasing decisions can have a positive impact on society, so – even more so – can the procurement choices of large corporations with huge purchasing power. Inclusive procurement helps to ensure that companies support a diverse portfolio of businesses, including those owned by ethnic minorities.

MSDUK connects supplier ethnic minority businesses (EMBs) with buyers, often from global companies. These contracts have the capacity to fuel quantum leaps in growth for EMBs. On the procurement side, we help buyers by providing them with access to our network of certified EMBs.

This is important because ethnic minority businesses (EMBs) have a disproportionately positive impact on the economy and society, yet they only receive a marginal share of procurement spend.

For example, consider how the UK government buys goods and services. The UK public sector – including central government and local councils – spends an estimated £353 billion a year buying goods and services. Large private sector corporations sometimes spend even more. Procurement decisions can have a huge impact.

What is striking to me is that Small and Medium size Enterprises (SMEs) get such a small share of the procurement spend from public and private sector organisations, even though 99% of businesses in the UK are SMEs, and nearly 8-10% of SMEs are owned by ethnic minorities. These EMBS are hugely underrepresented in both sector’s supply chains.

This is clearly unfair, but even more importantly it is not healthy socially or economically; supporting EMBs is good for business. Research from the US indicates that companies that focus heavily on supplier diversity generate a 133% greater return on their buying operations.

I am an economic migrant born and brought up in India. I came to the UK in 2000 to study and later started doctoral research on supplier diversity and inclusive procurement. The research I did for my dissertation led me to found MSDUK in 2006. As I was doing my research, reading statistics such as these, I observed an urgent need for a platform to connect large private sector firms and ethnic minority businesses to allow them to meet, interact, learn and access business opportunities.

EMBs have a disproportionately positive effect in tangible and less tangible ways. They are often the key drivers of economic growth in some of the poorest areas in Britain.

EMB owners are also a unique and dynamic entrepreneurial community; they represent diverse experiences and viewpoints, and this diversity is key to innovation and to a thriving, sturdy economy. EMBs increase competitiveness, understanding and knowledge. These business owners rely upon their unique life experiences, and the contribution of their knowledge is important to a vibrant society and business environment. It is important to Britain’s economic future that EMBs succeed.

The purchasing power of corporations can be distributed in ways that support supplier diversity and EMBs, in turn fuelling growth in poorer areas and supporting local communities. An inclusive procurement approach, where both private and public sector purchasing organisations actively seek to reach out and include all sizes and types of businesses, results in a fairer and more robust economy.

This year is MSDUK’s tenth anniversary. It has grown enormously over the ten years, but there is still more to do in the field of diverse procurement. I want to continue to help share the benefits of supply chain activity fairly amongst the business community and SMEs including highly underrepresented EMBs, for the benefit of everyone.

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About Mayank Shah
Mayank is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Minority Supplier Development UK (MSDUK), the UK’s non-profit corporate membership organisation in the UK driving inclusive procurement.

Prior to the establishment of MSDUK, Mayank managed the two-year Supplier Diversity Pilot Programme at CRÈME, funded by the East Midlands Development Agency. He was responsible for planning and delivery of the project, as well as raising and securing funding. By the end of the project, over £2m worth of business was secured for ethnic minority businesses which laid the foundation for setting up MSDUK as an independent not-for-profit organisation, promoting and championing supplier diversity in the UK. Mayank holds an MBA in Management from Leeds Beckett University, U.K. and a Masters of Commerce degree in General Business and Commerce Programme from Delhi University, India.