A Guiding Hand From Big Business to Small

NYTimes.com – By Elizabeth Olson

For a small business, especially in the current weak economy, a contract to supply goods or services to a large corporation can be a welcome lifeline. Some big companies, meanwhile, are seeking to expand their network of small suppliers.

To serve both their interests, some major corporations, including I.B.M., Wal-Mart, Procter & Gamble and Home Depot, offer programs to mentor small companies, particularly businesses owned by women, blacks, Hispanics and other groups.