Celebrating partners who are writing their own history within the Black Partner Growth Initiative - Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program

Celebrating partners who are writing their own history within the Black Partner Growth Initiative

Two young designers working in an modern office

While we celebrate Black history every day in my house, this month brings a heightened awareness of all who have stood before us to pave the way. Lately, I have been reflecting on my great-grandmother. Her name was Christina, but the only name her grandchildren knew her by was “Nanny.” Nanny was such a respected and imposing figure for someone who stood barely five feet tall. She was born in 1906 in Pasadena, California. With no formal education, she started working as a nursing assistant. That job evolved into a career as an in-home caretaker and housekeeper.  Nanny would later go on to perform the most important job of her life: raising my mother and aunt, who were just young girls at the time. To make ends meet, Nanny picked up additional work scrubbing floors until midnight most evenings. I am grateful to Nanny for her resilience and dedication to my family. This month I am celebrating Nanny’s life and everything that she contributed to my history.

Black History Month offers us an opportunity to reflect and honor the trailblazers who have come before us, while inspiring the next generation of history makers. The unique lived experiences of our partners have influenced the Microsoft Black Partner Growth Initiative (BPGI). Their achievements, the acknowledgement of unseen opportunity, and the desire to create a more equitable future inspires our work and fuels our investment.

Over the last year, Microsoft has invested to accelerate the recruitment and growth of Black partners through the Black Partner Growth Initiative (BPGI). During this time, we have worked alongside these partners to cultivate a mutual bond of trust and innovative collaboration. As we closed last quarter, I witnessed firsthand how this cohort of partners have deepened their relationship with Microsoft, co-investing their time, energy, and talent to shape the initiative while doing the hard work of growing their businesses.

As I join discussions with partners, I am grateful for the insights they share with us about where we can do better. I am also encouraged to see how the impact we are mobilizing together is laying the foundation for generational wealth-building opportunities that spill over into the communities where our partners live and work. I see this as validation for the importance of this program to enable partner success.

In particular, our new Black Partner Growth Initiative Accelerator program, which launched last month, expands our opportunity to mentor and work 1:1 with a select group of 56 partners. Their successful completion of this program opens the door for new opportunities to be championed within the Microsoft ecosystem, creates impact for customers, and serves as an enabling influence throughout their communities.

The three partners featured below embody the early success of the Black Partner Growth Initiative as they write their own history and path within the Microsoft Partner Network.

Our partners are blazing trails

The entire Microsoft business model is based on the knowledge that partners make more possible. The BPGI community is a unique example of how empowering spaces enable high-potential individuals and businesses to catalyze collective growth and collaboration. Through knowledge sharing, mentorship, access to resources, and spurring one another forward, we take turns standing on one another’s proverbial shoulders – going further, faster.

We’re proud of what our partners have accomplished and honored to share stories of these Black technology partners who are drawing upon their unique experience, and business vision to inspire us all.

Jasson Walker | cFocus Software | Largo, MD

When Jasson Walker founded cFocus Software in 2006, he envisioned creating the kind of company he would want to work for – one committed to truly taking care of both the employees and the customers. In fact, that’s where cFocus gets its name: a shorthand for ‘customer-focused software’. Today, Walker has built cFocus into a rapidly growing company providing cyber security, enterprise IT, Azure FedRAMP, and chatbot services to government agencies.

A Microsoft Gold competency partner for over 10 years, Walker and his team found embracing the Microsoft Cloud a natural progression for their business. In 2016, they learned of the Microsoft Cloud Ready program and signed up immediately. Located in Maryland, the team flew to Orange County, California, for the 1-day seminar. “That seminar changed my life – that day, we created a business plan for our cloud product that we now offer on the Microsoft Azure Marketplace,” explained Walker.

It was also the relationships developed from that seminar that connected Walker to the Black Partner Growth Initiative. “The fact that Microsoft created BPGI to directly impact Black-owned Microsoft partners was truly amazing to me. I wanted to be part of the change that Microsoft is driving through BPGI.”

Equipped with the support and resources of BPGI, Walker and cFocus made significant achievements, elevating their partner standing through membership in the Microsoft Supplier Program and tapping previously out-of-reach opportunities.

“Through BPGI we were able to connect with a director within Microsoft Federal who helped promote our Microsoft Azure solution to multiple federal agencies,” said Walker. “As a result, we were introduced to one of the top Microsoft Azure partners in the world and subsequently teamed up with them on a $100M federal government contract opportunity to provide Azure services.” cFocus has since built their reputation in the industry and engaged multiple account managers on federal government opportunities, bringing value to customers and driving revenue growth.

Derrick Miles | CourMed | McKinney, TX

For Derrick Miles, technology always represented the foundation to provide an innovative customer experience within the health care industry. Miles founded CourMed in 2018 and took the helm as CEO, Miles’ 15+ years of executive experience in healthcare and multiple patents powered CourMed’s expansion into several verticals that prepared the company to change the healthcare experience for patients and providers.

From the beginning, Miles built CourMed to run on the power of Microsoft Cloud and took early advantage of Microsoft programs, like Microsoft for Startups. This resourcefulness put the Black Partner Growth Initiative on Miles’ radar as a potential catalyst for accelerating growth for his young company. Through BPGI, CourMed became a Microsoft partner in 2020 and received capital funding through the Microsoft Partner Fund in 2021.

“We are thrilled to be receiving capital investment from Microsoft to grow and scale CourMed,” said Miles. “With access to non-dilutive capital, the Microsoft playbook and consulting insights for vertical scaling, and a global marketplace for our solution, we look forward to recruiting A-players in sales, marketing, and IT to execute our aggressive growth plans.”

Today, CourMed is a bolt-on to concierge medicine and direct primary care physicians. In addition to generating 5-star reviews from healthcare partners, CourMed has continued to listen and iterate to deliver what it important to them: greater patient volumes and higher margin revenue creation. Patients now have access to a concierge nurse, a concierge pharmacist, and the concierge delivery of products and services from the comfort of their home, office, or luxury hotel through CourMed. With a newly featured solution on the commercial marketplace, CourMed is poised to begin blazing trails within the health care industry.

Sequoia Ramsey | Realistic Computing | Owings Mills, MD

Providing exceptional customer service is the common thread throughout Sequoia Ramsey’s career in the tech industry, and the foundation of her company, Realistic Computing. Realistic Computing offers Azure, Modern Work, and Hololens AI R&D solutions across diverse industries including government and non-profit. With a focus on helping organizations achieve the greatest return on investment from their IT systems, Ramsey has built a team of experts focused on taking the time to understand their client’s needs and developing solutions that revolve around them – a model example of Microsoft’s ‘customer obsession’ value.

Her vision of creating a company that maintained service as a point of difference was galvanized following a disheartening experience purchasing a new PC. “I decided that customer service and support should be at the core of a company, not making money. The money comes when you do the right thing on behalf of the customer,” explained Ramsey. “That’s why I set out to build a company that not only provides solutions to customers but is a true partner with integrity so organizations can focus on their mission while we focus on the technology.”

Ramsey chose to center her solution offering around the Microsoft Cloud, recognizing its unmatched ability to support a range of business requirements and quickly scale with her customers’ changing needs. To ensure that her team was adequately recognized for their expertise in the cloud market and to expand her customer base, she invested time and resources in attaining Microsoft silver competency and multiple Microsoft Certifications.

When it came to furthering her company’s capability to serve customers well, joining the Black Partner Growth Initiative was a natural next step. “We gained access to resources to skill up and expand our expertise and footprint to support existing customers as well as future opportunities,” said Ramsey. With a consistent eye on deepening customer and technology partnerships, Ramsey says, “We are looking forward to growth in the Microsoft ecosystem to extend our reach of being the best on the planet!”

Continued investment in Black partners to provide model for widespread enablement of minority communities

We’re beyond proud of what each of our partners is achieving and their contribution to elevating the Black partner community as a more recognizable influence in the greater Microsoft partner ecosystem. This courageous cohort is not only blazing trails for the Black community – they are also helping define the pathways and strategies we will extend to support minority communities across the globe.

We’ll continue to focus on enabling inclusive economic opportunity together with our partners. Supplier diversity has become a core strategy to drive economic value. One way that we’re enabling diverse businesses in our ecosystem is to provide US partners the option to self-attest as a diverse business and to provide relevant third-party certifications in their Partner Center Company profile. This information will offer new channels for customer opportunities. It will also help provide insights into how we can continue to improve our partner programs and offerings to support the growth of diverse businesses within our partner ecosystem.

Business leaders, technology innovators, community champions

The impact of partners like Jasson Walker, Derrick Miles, and Sequoia Ramsey shows how any investment we make in our partners will be multiplied exponentially through their determination to deliver exceptional outcomes for customers, inspire more diverse talent to the tech sector, and build companies that fuel generational wealth in the greater Black community.

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  • Rodney Clark
    Former Microsoft Channel Chief

    As Microsoft Channel Chief, Rodney Clark led the team responsible for the Microsoft services partner business, as well as cross-partner strategy and outcomes through the Microsoft Partner Network. The team's focus is driving digital transformation and building capability through all partner channels, programs and motions – critical in setting the go-forward strategy for our partner ecosystem, and continuing to accelerate growth with partners and customers. Prior to this, Rodney served as the Corporate Vice President of the Internet of Things (IoT) and Mixed Reality Sales business, responsible for building intelligent systems and mixed reality capability through sales and go-to-market execution, with partners and customers. Throughout his career at Microsoft, over 20 years, he has had the opportunity to lead multi-billion-dollar businesses and accelerate transformation, develop new channels and markets, drive M&A initiatives and run international organizations.