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Go to Changeshop: Yasa Sourcing.
Yasa empowers women globally by connecting companies with procurement needs to qualified women-owned businesses with supplier capabilities.
About Your Organization
Country where this project is creating social impact
United States, CA, Alameda, Alameda County
Age of Innovator
Gender of Innovator
Is your organization a
How long has your organization been operating?
Less than a year
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Name Your Entry
Select the stage that best applies to your solution
Idea (you're poised to launch)
How long have you been in operation?
Still in idea phase, but looking to launch soon
The Need: What problem are you trying to solve?
Women-owned businesses (WBEs) represent 29% of US businesses and employ 8M people. Yet less than 4% of corporate and government contracts are awarded to WBEs. Companies and the US government recognize this market failure and have committed to sourcing billions of dollars from WBEs. However, procurement officers, the decision-makers of business contracts, still rely on their established networks for referrals or time-consuming trade shows. At best, they pay for access to static business listings which do not lend credibility or visibility to top-performing minority suppliers. Thus, while many organizations endeavor to support women entrepreneurs, there is nothing in the marketplace to efficiently match procurement officers with qualified WBEs for greater economic equality and inclusion.
The Solution: What is your solution? Be specific!
Yasa Sourcing (Yasa), a social enterprise, revolutionizes procurement practices by connecting companies to qualified WBEs. We address a market failure that not only causes unintended economic discrimination towards qualified WBEs but also results in inefficient supplier networks. By bringing proven social networking technology to procurement, an underserved but critical business function, we equip decision-makers to take action.
By subscribing to the Yasa Sourcing community, WBEs can share relevant data (i.e. industry codes, location, sales, etc.) and strengthen their credibility by sharing content and soliciting independent reviews from past and current customers. Procuring companies now have the opportunity to easily diversify their supplier network, reach top-performing WBEs, post requests for proposals (RFPs), and enable WBEs to bid independently or collaboratively to meet supplier criteria and capacity requirements.
The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include your primary activities
To illustrate how Yasa works, meet Julia. She worked in public relations for many years and decided to start her own PR agency in 2010. Currently, her new business comes through referrals so she has had slow growth and seems to hear about business opportunities after the contracts have been awarded. Concurrently, Sam, a procurement officer is trying to meet his supplier diversity targets, so instead of only considering his traditional business partners, he wants to consider qualified WBEs. He just missed the annual WBE trade show so a colleague recommended using Yasa Sourcing, a new procurement tech start-up. Within minutes of registering and putting in his requirements, he finds the top PR agencies in his area and easily connects with Julia’s company to include in his upcoming RFP.
Yasa Sourcing has a multi-sided business model; WBEs pay a modest fee for membership and procuring companies are charged competitively benchmarked subscription fees for access to Yasa’s dynamic platform. With our model, we are first building a critical mass of procurement officers to draw in WBEs and create a new sourcing solution. To do this, we are launching a Chicago pilot where we offer customized business matchmaking services, in addition to access to aggregated business profiles of the top regional WBEs. These officers will establish profiles and post RFPs with the growing WBE community for greater inclusion and supplier diversity. With an emerging customer base and minimum viable product, we will then refine our user-centric platform to grow our network and increase WBE engagement.
The Marketplace: Who are your peers and competitors? Identify others also working to address the needs you are and what differentiates you from them. What challenges could these players pose to your success or growth?
Our competitors - WBE certification bodies and supplier databases - are narrowly focused on serving one side. WBENC, the largest certification body, offers a matching service. Per our interviews, this service is limited to corporate partners and has not been effective. Austin-Tetra, a for-profit competitor, is a database that includes WBEs. However, Austin-Tetra doesn’t provide any performance data, search technology, and may lose relevance as it was acquired by Equifax, whose focus is gathering credit info, not creating sourcing solutions. Procurement officers also use referrals and trade shows to identify suppliers, but such methods are weak substitutes as they are inefficient in time and cost. Only Yasa brings together both WBEs and procurement officers to transform business sourcing.
This Entry is about (Issues)
What solution(s) does your initiative address to help emerging entrepreneurs and small businesses grow and thrive in underserved communities? (select all applicable)
Access to technology, Access to economic opportunity.
What has been the impact of your solution to date?
Women entrepreneurs still face three key challenges: access to finance, mentorship and networks. While many organizations are addressing the first two challenges, we are fully committed to the third: networks. People do business with people they know, like, and trust. With Yasa, we lower the barrier to connecting with new, credible WBE partners outside current networks.
We have fielded dozens of interviews with corporate procurement professionals and WBEs to garner their feedback and support. Later this summer we will launch our beta site which will allow partners all over Chicago to begin connecting with each other. Through our research, we have not only met with people who are highly committed to supplier diversity, but we have also engaged in conversations with companies that seek a simple, effective tool. We aim to be the catalyst of new business contracts which help double the estimated $3 trillion in sales by WBEs in the next 10 years (Center for Women's Business Research).
What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?
Yasa Sourcing’s social impact is directly aligned with its business growth. Our mission is to create a more inclusive, competitive business environment for WBEs. Therefore, we will measure the volume of contracts between WBEs and corporate clients. Our dashboard will track member engagement through metrics such as the number of members, connections, and visits. We will also track RFPs posted in our network and awarded contracts. We will survey our corporate customers annually to gauge changes in diversity spend and our WBEs to monitor increases in revenues and employment.
After launching in Chicago, we will expand to other metropolitan hubs reaching 200 corporate clients and 5,000 WBE members in the next three years.
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
Our business assumes that procurement officers will pay to diversify their supplier networks. Increasingly, companies are tying compensation to supplier diversity targets. Thus, this is a fair assumption as companies pay thousands of dollars to certification bodies for access to smaller networks and static supplier diversity databases. We believe that with moderate investment, we will be able to scale our network efficiently by reaching organized business and trade associations of which procurement officers and WBEs are members. Should this assumption be incorrect, we may need to increase our investment in sales and hire more experienced sales executives with business-to-business expertise as we focus more of our marketing to companies directly.
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
Raise sufficient working capital (estimated $20K) to realize our vision this year
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Finish development on a minimal viable product for customer feedback, prove our unit economics and build credibility for Yasa
Finalize a vested group of procurement partners and advisors committed to helping us rapidly refine our product offerings
Continue applying to business incubators and social enterprise grants and connecting with angel investors
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Secure partnerships with WBEs and sourcing associations to scale our two-sided platform
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Drive aggressive sales and marketing plan to increase awareness of Yasa
Acquiring technology expertise to further refine our platform and service offerings
Raise the necessary working capital to take Yasa Sourcing to scale
Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world.
We met our first month of business school and quickly found that we had a shared passion. As women and daughters, we have been given immense resources and support to succeed. We believe in the multiplier effect of women and the reinvestment that occurs when women earn more. For Sarah, the story is even more personal as she grew up in Saudi Arabia and witnessed the social, political and economic oppression of women. In 2011, we developed our own independent study researching women entrepreneurs in emerging markets. After many interviews ranging from Walmart to a Nigerian retailer, we realized the social business opportunity in procurement. It became obvious that although women entrepreneurs need continued support, the less glamorous yet critical decision-makers, procurement officers, were not being served. Each procurement decision along the value chain, not just the last customer sale, was missing the opportunity to consider women suppliers and, when totaled, is a tremendous force.
Tell us about your partnerships
We will form partnerships with procurement and WBE associations to drive awareness of Yasa. ISM, the largest sourcing association, is a reputable advocate for supplier diversity amongst procurement officers. WBE associations (e.g. NAWBO and WBENC) also have extensive reach with over 10K members. We will focus on alliances with the Chicago regional partners of these associations to build our credibility and then expand our geographic presence. We also anticipate connecting with organizations which mentor WBEs to strengthen performance and address any weaknesses from customer feedback.
Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list
Having recently graduated from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, we have built a highly diverse and talented network. We can connect our peers to leading academic researchers, classmates that work across regions and geographies and an alumni network of influential global leaders and industry experts. We also have broad international experience to contribute as well.
|36 weeks ago Tim Scheu said: Hi Yating - Thank you for sharing your plans for Yasa Sourcing. Sounds like a much needed venture that could bring much-needed ... about this Competition Entry. - read more >|
|42 weeks ago Yating Yu updated this Competition Entry.|
|43 weeks ago Yating Yu submitted this idea.|