Wednesday, November 26, 2014

My Night out with MBE magazine: Celebrating 30 Years of Success

It’s not every day that a magazine gets to celebrate 30 years of publication.  In fact, it’s quite a feat for any business to thrive in today’s ever-changing, technology-driven society.  Despite these challenges, MBE magazine has proven that it can be done.  Serving as a vessel of light for minority- and women-owned businesses, MBE magazine celebrated their success on November 1st with a 30th Anniversary Experience at SeaWorld Orlando.  Sisters in the Cities was on the scene to take it all in!

The Hollywood-themed event began in SeaWorld’s beautiful Ports of Call.  Although it was an unusually cold and windy evening, everyone arrived looking fabulous!  Guests checked in and received their survival kit (we’ll come back to this later).  Many were able to experience the “lights, camera, action,” effect as Dawn Marchand of Helenistic Enterprises, Inc. briefly interviewed guests upon their arrival.   My sister Sabrina and I were busy live tweeting about all of the excitement that was occurring around us. 

First stop, the VIP area.  Located on the spacious patio outside of the Ports of Call ballroom, we were all serenaded by the soulful tunes of the naturally gifted and classically trained violinist, Lee England, Jr.   This was the first of many surprises.  The crowd was in an ebullient mood as England captivated us all with melodies from recognizable artists such as Alicia Keys and Music Soulchild.  This was definitely a tweetable moment!

I was definitely not expecting the next surprise.  Just as Sabrina and I began mingling with the crowd, I turned around to witness a live seal sitting in a cart right behind me.  He was big, brown and wet.  However, if the founder of MBE magazine, Ginger Conrad could pose with the seal, so could we.  Not quite sure how it would respond, we cautiously proceeded to take our picture with Mr. Seal.  As it turns out, he was quite friendly.  Another tweetable moment!

As the doors opened to the main ballroom, we were treated to a performance by the Florida Steppers International that had us all wanting to “Step in the Name of Love.” 

The spacious venue, decorated with gold accents and filled with several “diversity” stations did not disappoint.  My favorite happened to be the dessert stations where two perfectly decorated MBE 30th Anniversary cakes were on display.  A video featuring corporate sponsors opened the ceremony followed by a heartwarming welcome from Mistress of Ceremony, Robin Billups.  Next, MBE’s Publisher and President of Enterprise Publishing Inc., Barbara Oliver, thanked sponsors for their commitment to supplier diversity and MBE magazine.  “Let’s go out and make the next 30 years even better!” she declared.  Tweet, tweet, and tweet!
After another stellar performance from Lee England, Jr.,  it was time for guests to experience the “Walk of Fame” to Antarctica.  This experience would include a DJ and dancing as well as a performance by Kenny Latimore. The catch?  We were told that it would be a ten-minute walk from the Ports of Call.  This is where the survival kit came into play!  It was time for us to take off our shoes and replace them with the flats from our kits.  Thankfully, the event planners thought of everything! 

Having arrived in Antarctica, Sabrina and I immediately jumped in line for the ride, Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin.   Surrounded by a vista of rock and ice with outdoor temperatures hovering in the 40s I literally felt like a penguin.  Kenny Latimore closed out the night with performances of some of his most recent songs including the single, “Heart Stops” as well as an impromptu collaboration with Lee England, Jr. 

What an incredible night!  MBE magazine truly outdid themselves.  I look forward to the next big celebration… #Happy30MBE

-  Charmain Lewis

Charmain Lewis is a writer for the blog Sisters in the Cities. Keep up with Charmain and Sabrina at, and follow them on  and on


Charmain is the founder of Sisters in the Cities.  Having a fondness for exploring cities and a unique bond with her sister, Sabrina, Charmain thought it would be fun to highlight places off the beaten path or  “nuggets” one can discover within a city from a family oriented and single person’s point of view.  Her goal is to bring about joy and happiness into the lives of others by focusing on all of the good that exists in your very own back yard.  Charmain’s passion for bringing out the best in others and exploring new places supports her mission to share what is good in the world, while at the same time, honoring her family and loved ones.

Charmain obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Queens University of Charlotte.  She currently resides with her husband and three sons in Tampa, Florida. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

SBA Announce 21 New Partners of the SupplierPay Initiative

As a part of his Year of Action, President Obama and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet launched SupplierPay, a partnership with the private sector to strengthen small businesses by increasing their access to working capital.

In July, I stood alongside President Obama and announced SupplierPay to fuel growth for both small and large businesses. As the advocate for our nations entrepreneurs, I know that supply chain growth is a priority as I work to improve resources for our nations economic engines small businesses. That is why today I am proud to join with the White House in announcing more corporations, which have joined this partnership, to ensure access to affordable working capital, which is often the greatest challenge faced by Americas small suppliers, said Administrator Contreras-Sweet. When small business suppliers wait 120 days to get paid, thats four months without the revenue to compete for and to fulfill new contracts, making it more difficult to add more employees to the payroll. The companies which have taken the SupplierPay pledge have made a powerful collective statement about the leadership role of large buying organizations in supporting the health and vitality of Americas supply chains, and the hundreds of thousands of small businesses that comprise it.

For private sector leaders, joining SupplierPay demonstrates recognition that a healthy supply chain is essential for good business. For their small business suppliers, the initiative means having more working capital to invest in new opportunities, equipment, and hiring. Americas small businesses provide nearly half of all private sector jobs and play an outsized role in innovating new products, services, and business processes. Initiatives like SupplierPay, which promotes timely payment to small suppliers, enables small businesses to devote more of their resources to innovation, quality, and growth.

National Economic Council Director Jeff Zients and Administrator Contreras-Sweet hosted a meeting at the White House on November 17 with pledge adoptees for SupplierPay updates and its implementation. The session included pledgees sharing their experiences, lessons, and best practices with their SupplierPay peers. This event follows a July 2014 launch, at which time 26 companies had pledged SupplierPay.

As of November 2014, the following companies have taken the SupplierPay pledge:






Cardinal Health

Chenega Corporation

Chugach Alaska


Cook Inlet Region, Inc.


Dominion Resources

Dun & Bradstreet








Johnson & Johnson

Kaiser Permanente

Kelly Services

Lockheed Martin

McGraw Hill Financial


Molina Healthcare


Nova Corp.




Rolls Royce

Rothschild North America

Sacramento Municipal Utility District



Sempra Energy Utilities


Southern California Edison




Westinghouse Electric Company