By Kadian Douglas, CPA, CISA
Who is Kadian Douglas, and why I became involved in the Minority Business Accelerator through CLA’s Tampa Bay Chamber relationship?
I am currently a Principal in our Cybersecurity practice and the Chair of the Young Executive Team at CLA (CliftonLarsonAllen, LLP). Coming to Florida from Minnesota by way of Jamaica through my job transfer with CLA, I got involved with the Tampa Bay Chamber through the Emerging Leaders of Tampa Bay where I served on the Inclusion Committee. The Inclusion Committee’s mission is to connect emerging leaders with opportunities for community involvement. I learned about numerous opportunities to get involved in the Chamber during my time with Emerging Leaders of Tampa Bay. In 2019, The Minority Business Accelerator (MBA) program was nominated for a CLA Foundation grant. Through that nomination, I learned more about the Minority Business Accelerator program and its impact on the community.
Growing up, I saw my grandfather; Alvin Spencer always giving back and helping others no matter how small the gesture. That may have had an impact on me. I am passionate about giving back and saw the alignment of the Minority Business Accelerator’s purpose, CLA Foundation’s mission and my desire to create opportunities for all to be the best version of themselves despite their circumstances. I expressed my interest in serving as a volunteer for the program and was given the opportunity. CLA is a member of the Tampa Bay Chamber and is also a Community Partner of the Minority Business Accelerator program.
Describe the importance of the Minority Business Accelerator program.
The Minority Business Accelerator program is playing an integral role in creating opportunities for diverse businesses in the Tampa Bay region. I learned that in Hillsborough County the number of businesses owned by minorities and non-minorities are almost the same, but minorities only contribute 5% of total revenue to the county. This was surprising to me and I see where the Minority Business Accelerator program had an opportunity to have a significant impact in Tampa Bay by elevating the potential for success of the respective business.
The selection process is rigorous and identifies those companies who are on their way to success and would benefit from the additional support such as, but not limited to financial, operational, human resources, cybersecurity and professional development. I have seen firsthand how the Minority Business Accelerator expanded the networks of those companies that have gone through the program. Through its various community partnerships, the Minority Business Accelerator is providing opportunities for each participating company to scale its operations, source necessary capital, and drive economic growth.
How have I been involved?
I currently serve on the Leadership Council of the Minority Business Accelerator where we are responsible for recruiting minority businesses, evaluating and providing recommendations for the continued impact of the program, among other responsibilities to advance the mission of the Minority Business Accelerator program. Most recently, I served on the selection committee for the cohort class that will be starting the program in 2021. (Cohort ’22)
As a member of the CLA family where I am a CPA and Cybersecurity Principal, it has been my pleasure to create a variety of diverse opportunities for the members of the Minority Business Accelerator program cohorts. With the support of CLA family members, we have leveraged several subject matter experts to give back to the community by volunteering with the program. We have been able to provide presentations relating to cybersecurity, accounting and tax best practices, wealth advisory, as well as 1:1 support, among other opportunities.
It was my pleasure this year, after my experiences with the program, to nominate the Minority Business Accelerator program for the CLA Foundation grant as the program aligns with the CLA Foundation’s mission. The CLA Foundation provides grants to organizations that align with its mission of creating career opportunities through education, employment, and entrepreneurship.
Where would you like to see the program go in the next 5 years?
As the program is wrapping up its third year, there are opportunities for the Minority Business Accelerator to grow and expand its impact in Tampa Bay. In the next five years, I would like to see more diverse groups across various industries and service lines apply and go through the program. Additionally, I would like to see growth in the number of sponsors which will provide resources to increase the number of opportunities available to the cohorts. The success of the program is dependent on sponsorship support from the Chamber community. The value of the partnership is mutually beneficial. As a sponsor organization you can achieve the goal of continuing to give back and investing in the community, while expanding your network of diverse suppliers, and other various business collaboration opportunities.
How can companies and individuals get involved with the Minority Business Accelerator?
I encourage companies to partner with the Tampa Bay Chamber Minority Business Accelerator as a sponsor, mentor, advisor or subject matter expert. This partnership will help support the positive impact on the community as a result of improving the opportunities available to minority businesses. I believe diverse perspectives provide companies with a competitive advantage and helps to drive innovation, creativity, and profitability.