Chicago Business Opportunity Fair

53rd Annual Chicago Business Opportunity Fair

Due to the continued escalation of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), ChicagoMSDC has redeveloped the 53rd Annual Chicago Business Opportunity Fair 2020!

While our nation continues to survive the looming threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all been adapting to a “new normal” including restrictions to our daily lives personally and professionally. Unfortunately, that is not the only threat. We still have work to do in the face of injustice.

In fact 53 years ago, the Chicago Business Opportunity Fair was born from the Civil Rights Movement and the cries for justice. Turning the pain into a strategy, the Business Opportunity Day was founded in 1967. (VIDEO)

 The concept of supplier diversity was crafted as a positive approach to address economic disparity caused by the exclusion of minority businesses from corporate and government spending.

From Then to Now

This year’s conference theme, ENVISION 2020: Connecting the Dots is somewhat prophetic. Who could have envisioned what 2020 would look like? COVID-19 has proven we are all connected, whether we like it or not. Our opportunity in business is to make our connected relationships valuable and mutually beneficially, whether in-person or from a distance.

In spite of today’s threats and obstacles, ChicagoMSDC remains focused on the four pillars of our National MSDC network: Certify, Develop, Connect, and Advocate. Every day we should work towards building profitable and sustainable relationships with mutually beneficial outcomes for all of our stakeholders by growing minority businesses locally, nationally, and globally.

Now is the time!

We are excited to announce that this year’s Chicago Business Opportunity Fair (CBOF53) presented by Allstate will take on a new format to deliver immediate, online resources to our network over the next few months. There is no time to wait. We are adapting to a unique environment, changing variables, teleworking offices, civic unrest and threats of economic depression. The ChicagoMSDC will forge ahead fearlessly despite the uncertainties and unknowns.

You are Invited to participate

ChicagoMSDC welcomes the business community and public sector.

  • C1 | NMSDC-certified minority business enterprises (MBEs)
  • C2 | Other guests including non-MSDC certified minority firms, NMSDC affiliates, non-profit assist agencies
  • C3 | Corporate members (NMSDC Network)
  • C4 | Corporate, non-members

Honorary Chairs Welcome You

What to Expect from the Virtual Conference

  • FREE online workshop sessions for personal growth and business development
  • Special invitations for video matchmaking between certified suppliers and buying organizations
  • Live participation by Zoom or video replay on demand, in your own time
  • Meet and greet your new advocates from the ChicagoMSDC and MBDA centers
  • Engage in real-time Q&A or chat sessions with speakers, panelists and ChicagoMSDC staff

ChicagoMSDC Objectives

  • Celebrate and support the next generation of leaders, community advocates and owners
  • Introduce minority-owned businesses to the value of certification and the process
  • Deliver valuable insights to survive or minimize the negative effects of COVID-19
  • Demonstrate how to leverage technology to innovate and operate more efficiently
  • Connect certified MBEs to industry-specific, supplier integration opportunities
  • Highlight and showcase outstanding corporations and minority businesses in our network
  • Envision a new way forward with a refocused action plan for advocacy of minority communities

What's Next

For real-time event notifications, please follow our Eventbrite page.

Watch On Demand: Simply visit our YouTube Channel for #CBOF53 replay videos.


Guide to Closing the Deal
A candid dialog and inward conversation with accomplished broadcast media icon and author Melody Spann Cooper, Chairman, Midway Broadcasting Corporation. Melody shared proven deal making business strategies and discuss how to successfully pivot and close the deal, even under adverse circumstances.

Moderated by Sharla Roberts, Director of Procurement Diversity/Compliance Program for the University of Illinois System, this conversation also included experiences from two phenomenal business owners: Raquel Graham, ROQ Innovation and Jackie Jackson, Kilwins Chocolates and Fudge.

Chief Procurement Officers: Who Can Play This Game?
Corporate CPOs will help suppliers successfully navigate the purchasing process. CPOs have the ability to advocate for diverse suppliers that deliver notable value and drive diversity spending toward specific commodities/services. CPOs will share insights about corporate procurement and the challenges and opportunities facing sourcing managers.

Driving Business Innovation with Virtual and Augmented Reality
The virtual and augmented reality market is estimated to reach $1 trillion in the next few years. Business leaders attending this session gained insight from an industry leading VR/AR innovator on how to drive business advantage with virtual and augmented reality. Mary Spio, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of CEEK VR, shared how technology is transforming business right before our eyes.


The New Advocate: Leadership and Accountability
#CBOF53 hosted an informal, candid conversation featuring President and CEO,
Mr. Vincent Williams. This session entitled, "The New Advocate: Leadership and Accountability" was not only a welcome to the Council's new leader, but this was also a great opportunity to reflect on today's reality and the Council's future.

How will the ChicagoMSDC deliver needed resources to minority businesses, create opportunities for measurable growth, and make minority communities a high priority in our strategic plans? We had a great conversation.

Bridging the Post-COVID Digital Divide
The need for MWBEs to move to the cloud and utilize SaaS (Software As A Service) to achieve growth and remain competitive. Research shows that 37% of small businesses believe there is no need to adopt technology. This couldn't be further from the truth. Research also show that cloud solutions reduce business workload by 42% and have the potential to double profits. LeShane Greenhill, Founder of Sales Cocktail, will help MBEs dive into technologies that reduce cost, improve communications, and deliver growth.

The Impact of COVID 19 on Minority Businesses
This session discusses minority firm economic vulnerability during the COVID-19 Pandemic and what needs to be done in the recovery.

Minority owned firms are at significant economic risk due to the COVID-19 crisis and the subsequent economic crisis caused by stay at home orders, and social distancing. This is in large part because minority owned firms, are smaller on average, in a generally weaker position financially, and have less access to credit and capital. Couple this with various reports that minority firms were less likely to receive access to stimulus funding, and the challenges for these firms during the crisis. This webinar will provide an overview of minority firm vulnerability prior to the crisis, and share insights from organizations that work with minority firms, on how these firms are being impacted during the crisis.

Video Pitch with Perfection
This session is designed for corporate professionals, business leaders and minority business owners who engage in video presentations and conferencing. We will examine video conferencing pitfalls that can tarnish your image, reduce your effectiveness, and spoil a fantastic opportunity to look and sound like a polished professional presenter. Attendees will learn key tips and best practices to avoid career catastrophe or presentation problems for virtual meetings. This is an active learning environment with real-time engagement hosted by Jared L. Kelly, President of CEI Media Group.

SMART Business Pitch
CBOF53 will connect minority suppliers to real contract opportunities with the Federal Reserve Bank. Participating MBEs will be invited to submit a capabilities video for consideration by Federal Reserve Bank buyers. The Top 5 videos submitted will be rewarded with complimentary access to the CBOF53 Corporate 1-on-1 Match Making Sessions in September to pitch directly to category buyers.

Strategies for Maximizing Minority Business Certification
This session is for minority business enterprises (MBEs) interested in first-time certification, currently in process, and MBEs recently certified. The ChicagoMSDC offers the gold-standard in certification. The process and requirements are stringent to maintain integrity and trust for corporate and government buying agencies. Shondra Watson Wilson, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Leatha King, Manager, MBE Services, will describe the stages of the process and how to maximize ChicagoMSDC minority business certification.

Keeping Your Business Secure and Resilient during the COVID-19 Crisis
As the world faces the first global pandemic in over a century, business owners have been asked to rapidly shift to new ways of working and delivering for their customers. The businesses that have established strong resiliency plans have the ability to mitigate some of the issues created by the COVID-19 crisis, but even well-planned businesses are facing unprecedented changes. The large-scale shift of work locations from offices to homes can have serious unanticipated implications for IT and cybersecurity.

How does a business keep running when its usual business and operational channels are temporarily unavailable? Is your company adequately prepared for the changes in your cybersecurity risk? Resiliency and cybersecurity experts from JPMorgan Chase will share ideas for managing through this time of crisis and building in preparedness for future adversity.

Celebration of Excellence

On Saturday June 20, the ChicagoMSDC celebrated the Class of 2020 Dolores Saxton-Walker scholarship winners presented by ChicagoMSDC’s Minority Business Enterprise Input Committee. This year MBEIC presented a total of $30,000 in scholarships, supporting 10 outstanding Chicago Public School graduating seniors. Each scholar received $3,000 to defray college expenses for the upcoming academic year.  This is a fantastic time to celebrate our young leaders who were unable to participate in traditional graduation ceremonies and gatherings due to COVID-19.  If you are interested in supporting scholarships for next year, contributions can be made online.

Thank You

Special thank you all of our sponsors! We thank all of our speakers, panelists, producers and staff who have turned Chicago Business Opportunity Fair (CBOF) into a virtual online and on demand experience. CBOF remains the longest-running multi-day conference focused on economic empowerment of minority business enterprises!

Questions about registration or sponsorship?

please contact CYNTHIA JORDAN, Director of Events
Phone: 312-755-2555

Photos and Video

Consent to Use Photographic Images and/or Recordings: Registration for, participation in and/or attendance at NMSDC meetings and other activities constitutes an agreement by the attendee to ChicagoMSDC's use and distribution (both now and in the future) of the registrant or attendee’s name, likeness, image, voice, comments and/or appearance in any and all media, including the Internet, for any purpose consistent with the ChicagoMSDC's mission, without compensation.


The Chicago Business Opportunity Fair (CBOF) is the longest running multi-day conference and trade fair focused on economic empowerment of minority business enterprises. Originally called the Business Opportunity Day in 1967, the success of the interactions between corporations and minority-owned businesses evolved with dramatic fashion.  The Business Opportunity Day was eventually organized by the Chicago Regional Purchasing Council, which ultimately blossomed into the National Minority Supplier Development Council in 1972.

CBOF is not only a signature event for the ChicagoMSDC, but it is also the foundational event that created a spotlight on the strategic benefits of supplier diversity.

Each year over 1,000 certified minority-owned businesses, buying organizations and advocates within supplier diversity attend the Chicago Business Opportunity Fair. This two-day conference is a unique channel for business development between minority business, corporate America and government agencies. Given the unparalleled networking and opportunities presented every year, CBOF has proven to be a valuable conference to learn from industry leaders, share successes, interact with C-suite executives and build profitable business relationships.

Whether you’re looking to expand your business, to develop new business connections, or to find new business opportunities for yourself, we hope you join us!