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Supplier Diversity Blog by supplier.io

How to Find the Best Suppliers for Your Business


We’ve all been there. You see a request for proposal (RFP) coming up, but none of your current diverse suppliers provide the needed product or service, so you take to Google. “Product” + “minority-owned business” has to turn up something usable, right? You probably will get one or two or even a handful of matches, but now you have to find contact information so you can start the vetting process. This is a common pain point for supplier diversity programs, both new and mature. In our 2021 State of Supplier Diversity report, 75 percent of supplier diversity professionals who participated said that finding qualified diverse suppliers was “somewhat to extremely challenging.” 

So, how can you find the best diverse suppliers for your business? There are two schools of thought. 

The first is that the supplier diversity team is responsible for sourcing diverse suppliers. Sometimes, supplier diversity teams prefer to take the lead to ensure suppliers are vetted and qualified. This can save time and energy in the long run because supplier diversity professionals are experienced in the nuances of working with diverse suppliers. 

On the other hand, often a supplier diversity “team” is just one person who already has too much on their plate. This is where the second school of thought is found: All buyers have access to tools to find and vet diverse suppliers.

Training buyers to properly vet and onboard qualified diverse suppliers may require significant resource investment up front, but it can pay off in the long run. Not only is the supplier diversity team free to focus on other tasks, but involving buyers in the sourcing process also encourages supplier diversity throughout the organization. It may also result in more opportunities for diverse suppliers as buyers build relationships with them.

Trade Shows

Trade shows and business expos cast a wide net, which is both a pro and a con. On the pro side, you will likely meet suppliers you would not otherwise encounter, which could lead to profitable partnerships. On the con side, unless you have a supplier portal set up to prequalify them on-site, you’re left with the tedious task of vetting each supplier yourself to see if they’re the best supplier for your business.


It may seem counterintuitive to reach out to your competition for supplier recommendations, but supplier diversity champions know that the stronger a diverse supplier is, the better it is for all of us. Part of working toward a common goal of strengthening underrepresented groups involves sharing information about qualified suppliers. So—without revealing any proprietary information—ask your network of supplier diversity professionals for recommendations.

Advocacy Organizations

The various diverse business advocacy organizations maintain databases of their respective certified members. If your company is a member, then you can search each database manually. Or you could use supplier.io’s Supplier Explorer tool, which aggregates diverse supplier data from more than 300 sources—including all of these organizations—in one location.

Individual certification databases:

  • WBENCLink2.0: Women-owned businesses certified by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council
  • NMSDC Central: Minority-owned businesses certified by the National Minority Supplier Development Council
  • MyNGLCC: LGBT-owned businesses certified by the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
  • DOBE Sourcing Hub: Disability-owned businesses certified by Disability:IN

Third-Party Tools

All of the supplier discovery methods we’ve mentioned so far require varying degrees of luck and legwork. Wouldn’t it be great if you could automate most of the supplier discovery process? If you’re ready for a more strategic solution, then supplier.io is ready and waiting to deliver quality results for your search for the best suppliers for your business.

Level up your supplier diversity program even further by training buyers to use these tools so they can source and vet qualified diverse suppliers as well.

Our Supplier Explorer tool is built on the industry’s largest, most accurate database of diverse suppliers, which aggregates data from more than 300 trusted global sources,  including the diverse advocacy organization databases listed above. 

Not only does Supplier Explorer allow you to search multiple sources with one query, but our proprietary search functions also provide enhanced results to build a short list of potential suppliers. After all, a list of 200 potential suppliers is about as useful as zero.

Our search functions are:

  • Power Search scans supplier websites to find specific capabilities, geographic locations, and more. Go beyond NAICS codes to find the diverse suppliers that provide the exact product or service you need.
  • TrustIQ provides information about a company's experience serving corporate customers, so you can evaluate and compare diverse businesses quickly. Leveraging supplier.io’s proprietary algorithms, TrustIQ rates diverse suppliers on three characteristics: size, age, and experience.
  • Market Analyzer provides insight into the availability of diverse suppliers in any industry, enabling you to collaborate with buyers to meet supplier diversity goals now and in the future.
  • Inclusion Tracker allows buyers to submit requests for diverse suppliers for a specific RFP. This aids the supplier diversity team in sourcing the right supplier for the job while providing accountability and tracking.

You set goals for your supplier diversity program, and you achieved buy-in from the C-suite and other stakeholders. Now it’s time to spend more time building relationships with suppliers and less time sifting through spreadsheets, websites, and inboxes. 

See how Supplier Explorer can help you find the right diverse suppliers for your business.

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The team has a long history in driving innovative solutions in supplier diversity. We believe that companies deserve solutions that are effective and provide measurable value and results. Started more than a decade ago, supplier.io has rapidly become a prominent provider of supplier diversity solutions to leading corporations. We currently support customers in automotive, healthcare, insurance, retail, manufacturing, education, and banking. One in five Fortune 50 company relies on supplier.io.