By Cindy O’Driscoll
Do you think that doing business with the Government of Canada is only for big business? June Tavenor thought so until the St. John’s area entrepreneur spoke to a representative of the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises (OSME).
As a member of OSME’s Atlantic region team, Wendy Taylor opened her eyes to the contracting opportunities that exist within the federal government. Soon after their meeting, Tavenor registered her nursing services firm, Catalyst Health Solutions, as a Government of Canada supplier.
OSME, as part of Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC), supports the government’s commitment to a procurement system that is fair and open to businesses of all sizes, in all regions across Canada.
To this end, OSME offers free information and training services to help smaller businesses promote their goods and services to government, search for bidding opportunities, and compete for government contracts.
Interested? Ready to get started? You are only a few clicks of the computer away from registering to do business with the Government of Canada.
Here are the first steps you need to take.
Step 1: Create an account
Register in the Supplier Registration Information (SRI) system. The SRI is a database of registered companies interested in selling to the federal government. By registering in SRI, you make your company’s name and supply capabilities widely known to federal departments and agencies.
Enter your Business Number (the first nine numbers of your GST/HST number), then your legal business name.
After you have completed Step 1, you will receive an email containing your Procurement Business Number (PBN). You need a PBN to bid on federal tenders and receive payment. Government buyers also use the SRI to identify potential suppliers for low-dollar requirements (usually under $25,000) that are unpublished.
Step 2: Complete your registration
Return to the SRI registration page and click on “Access my account.”
Enter your PBN, username, and password.
Enter your business information and the commodities you can supply. (Consult the Goods and Services Identification Number [GSIN] page to identify your commodities.)
Tavenor notes that it was quick and easy to register, estimating the entire process took only a few minutes. Once you have your information handy (legal business name and business number), the process is “very user friendly.”
Now that her business is registered in SRI, she’s been navigating BuyandSell.gc.ca, the federal government’s procurement website, exploring opportunities that might require her expertise in providing nursing services. She also checks the website regularly and receives email notifications for new tenders or amendments. As a result of her efforts, she has successfully secured a contract with the federal government. Signing up for the email notifications “made all the difference” to finding opportunities to sell to the government.
Her advice to fellow entrepreneurs? “If you’re into business development, it’s about registering and getting those email notifications. Once you’re in and you know how to successfully apply, the country is your oyster.”
To learn more, contact the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises (OSME) – Atlantic Region, the main federal government supplier resource in Atlantic Canada. Call 902-426-5677 or email email@example.com. You can also contact the national InfoLine at 1-800-811-1148.
Cindy O’Driscoll is Chief of Stakeholder Engagement with Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) in the Atlantic Region. As a key member of the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises (OSME) team in Halifax, Cindy advises and educates Atlantic Canadian companies and industry associations about the federal procurement process and is committed to helping businesses succeed. Cindy holds an MBA from Saint Mary’s University, an MSc in Coastal Zone Management from Bournemouth University, U.K. and an MA and BA (Hons) in Archaeology from Memorial University of Newfoundland. You can reach Cindy at firstname.lastname@example.org.