Spotlighting MSDUK: An Interview with Mayank Shah
Ahead of the upcoming MSDUK Virtual Innovation Summit 2020, Hayley Collen and Quynhnhu Nguyen spotlight ClearlySo friend and MSDUK founder and CEO, Mayank Shah, to get his insights on entrepreneurship and working with diverse founders.
In this interview, we talk to Mayank Shah of MSDUK who opens up about why he founded the company, challenges he’s had to overcome, the lessons he’s learned along the way and his advice for other under-represented founders forging their way.
To kick us off, could you tell us a bit about MSDUK?
Established in 2006, Minority Supplier Development UK (MSDUK) is UK’s leading non-profit organisation promoting diversity and inclusion in corporate supply chains. It helps and support ethnic minority owned businesses in the UK to get access to supply chain opportunities with global companies.
How / Why did you form the organisation?
MSDUK was incubated from the doctoral research I did in this area of supplier diversity.
What’s been your highlight to date?
Generating over £800m worth of business for ethnic minority businesses as well as launch of annual innovation challenge for ethnic minority founders with innovative ideas.
What has been the biggest challenge in your journey with MSDUK and how did you overcome it?
Finding more ethnic minority businesses due to lack of data-ownership of business is not recorded in the UK that makes it difficult to identify where they are. We are lobbying with the government to start recording ownership of business.
Do you think some countries / regions / sectors are better at working with diverse founders than others?
US has a history of over 40 years to work with minority businesses and we have seen more efforts made where there is government push for inclusion. In the UK, there is no legislative requirement or push for more inclusive procurement policies which doesn’t allow more positive action taken for minority business inclusion.
Is there any advice you can give to minority / under-represented founders starting out that you wish you knew?
Get your business ready for mainstream – invest in infrastructure, integrate in mainstream, professional networks outside of your own communities, take risks, dream big and leverage networks like MSDUK to get access to opportunities and knowledge.
How does impact fit in with the work of MSDUK?
As we expand our focus on working with young founders with innovative ideas, we are seeing more and more young entrepreneurs having focus on ‘profit with purpose’ – they are impact entrepreneurs trying to make a difference and we think we can support them build sustainable business around their ideas by leveraging our partners, investors and corporate network.
What three things would make a big difference to your work?
More hours in a day, greater commitment from corporate and partners to make a real difference and more ethnic minority businesses in our network.
Where do you hope MSDUK will be in 5 years / 10 years?
There is still so much to do to make this world more equal, economy more fairer and opportunities for all. I think MSDUK will still be there fighting for the cause and making real difference.
Who is your entrepreneurial hero?
We admire the quality of the many well-polished events and programmes that you run – can you tell us about a time when something went wrong but the audience would have never known?
At our awards ceremony in 2012, our host, BBC Newsreader George Alagaih had to finish his 6:30pm and rush to the venue – we had arranged a bike ride for him but it started raining heavily and we had to convince him to take the underground to make to the venue. He did finally make it in time but it did created lot of stress!
What great things can we look forward to from MSDUK in the second half of 2020?
Our Virtual Innovation Summit on 1st Sept will be the place to be if you are a diverse founder or an investor… so register now on: https://innovation-summit.msduk.org.uk/
How do we find out more about MSDUK?
Thank you for sharing your insights with us.