We all know that 2020 has been an incredibly challenging year for all of us. In March, NaVOBA, our Board of Directors, our Corporate Allies and our Certified Veteran’s Business Enterprises™ committed to respond effectively to the COVID-19 public health emergency. We launched a survey to assess the most critical issues facing our VBEs and how we could serve their businesses in overcoming the challenges. 
By far, the most pressing issue facing our VBEs continues to be the lack of business opportunities. The resounding theme was clear. Veteran-Owned Businesses are not looking for handouts. Rather, they’re looking to keep providing value to their customers and keep their businesses and their employees working.
In response NaVOBA launched Marching Forward Mondays (MFM), an ongoing series of virtual meetings between NaVOBA’s Certified VBEs/SDVBEs® and NaVOBA’s Corporate Allies. The program evolved over the year and is now segmented into four distinct categories: VBE value pitches, Corporate Ally Engagement Hour, Education and Training (EDU) and NaVOBA podcasts.
I’m very pleased to say that we’ve received incredible feedback from all our stakeholder communities and these sessions are providing valuable training, networking and connections. Most importantly they have led to direct business opportunities for many of our VBEs who’ve landed contracts with our Corporate Allies.
NaVOBA also conducted our very first National Virtual Awards Ceremony in which we highlighted our Veteran’s Business Enterprises® of the Year as well as our Best Corporations for Veteran’s Business Enterprises®. We also were honored to join our friends in the National Business Inclusion Consortium to collaborate on the tremendously successful Unity Week.
As this year comes to a close, we have an incredibly positive outlook for the future. I really believe that 2021 will shape up to be a great year for diverse suppliers. 2020 taught us how resilient and innovative diverse entrepreneurs are. Plus, the large Corporate Allies that understand the value of investment in diversity have made tremendous commitments that will really start to bear fruit over the next year. 
NaVOBA has been working all year on a totally new, world-class technology tool that will create a smooth and secure application process for our VBEs to apply for certification. What’s even more exciting is that same tool also serves as the first-ever, exclusive sourcing tool for corporations to search for Certified VBEs/SDVBEs.
In a final note to our VBE community; strive to anticipate where corporate organizations are heading and align the value that your firm provides with the customer’s developing needs. Doing your homework, following industry trends, asking questions of your customers, and thoughtfully listening to where they say their company is heading, is the best way to position your firm for success.
Maintaining your NaVOBA certification, developing the relationship with supplier diversity advocates, being present (even virtually) and emphasizing the value your company provides will ensure that you’re highly competitive when Corporate America honors the promises it made in 2020.
Have a safe and happy New Year celebration and let’s get to work in 2021!
Matthew Pavelek
NaVOBA President