Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Webinar: Minority-Owned Business Outreach and Partnerships for EV Infrastructure (Text Version)

This is a text version of Webinar: Minority-Owned Business Outreach and Partnerships for EV Infrastructure, presented on May 9, 2023.

Richard Ezike, Joint Office of Energy and Transportation: All right. Let's give a few more seconds for everybody to come in to get the critical mass. Okay. All right. Seeing those numbers come up, it's great. Wonderful. All right, okay.

All right. Let's kick it off. Let's kick it off. Happy Tuesday to everybody. My name is Richard Ezike. I am a program communication specialist at the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation, and I would like to welcome everyone to our latest installment of our weekly webinar series. Today, we'll be focusing on minority-owned business outreach and partnerships for electric vehicle infrastructure.

We typically do these webinars to provide insight and guidance for people to understand the different opportunities that they get engaged in EV charging. And we have a great set of panelists that we'll talk about that today. So we will go to our next slide. Before we get into our contents, a couple of housekeeping items.

First, you'll see that at the bottom of your screen that the controls are located at the bottom for question and answer. If they aren't appearing, move your cursor to the bottom edge. We encourage you to submit your questions using the Q&A window. By doing this, those questions will be seen by our panelists, and they'll be able to answer them during the webinar. So please submit those questions via Q&A window. Next slide please.

We also have to provide this disclaimer. This webinar is being recorded and may be posted on the Joint Office website or used internally. And note that if you speak during the webinar or use video, you are presumed to consent to recording and the use of your voice or image. So we also have to say that before we get started. All right. Let's go to our next slide please.

So what are we going to be talking about today? First, I'll provide a little bit of introduction about the Joint Office. We'll then have Angela Washington for the Minority Business Development Agency provide an overview of federal resources. And then we're going to have a set of great panelists from Dunamis Energy, Citizen Energy, and DaiTechCorp to talk about how they're being engaged in the EV space as MBs. Next slide.

So the Joint Office was established in late December of 2021 to focus on really building out the EV charging network and achieving Administration goals to have a robust electric vehicle charging network. Our mission is to accelerate an electrified transportation system that is affordable, convenient, equitable, reliable, and safe. And our overall vision is to have a future where everyone can ride and drive electric. Next slide.

So in the Joint Office, we support four specific programs that were established in the bipartisan infrastructure law. We provide unifying guidance, technical assistance, and analysis for those four programs. The first program is the National Infrastructure Formula Program or NEVI. This is a formula program where money is given direct to the states, totaling $5 billion for them to build a national electric vehicle charging network along particular highway corridors.

Our second program that we support is the Charging and Fueling Infrastructure Discretionary Grant Program. This is a $2.5 billion program, half of that going to communities and half of that going to corridors focused on EV charging as well as alternative fuels such as hydrogen, natural gas, and propane fueling.

The third program that we support is the Low-No Emissions Grant Program for Transit that is under the Federal Trade Administration's purview. This provides $5.6 billion to support low- and no-emission transit bus deployments. And then our fourth program that we support is the Clean School Bus Program that is supported by the—we work with the EPA. That program provides $5 billion to help school district transit transform their buses from diesel to electric. Next slide please.

As I mentioned in the previous slide, the Joint Office, our main area of focus is technical assistance. We provide special assistance for states, communities, tribal nations, transit agencies, and school districts, which as I mentioned earlier, are involved in those programs on the previous slide. We also can do one-on-one meetings with states to address questions and concerns related to the NEVI Formula Program.

We have a concierge service, and that provides many different ways of connecting from phone, email, or web form that officially reach technical assistance requests for NEVI, electric school buses, and transit buses. And our support team within the Joint Office has over 50 staff members spread across 10 different organizations. So we have a very robust and very diverse set of skill sets and technical assistance. If you want to know more about how to get access to technical assistance, just go to our website, Next slide please.

And in general, what we do at the Joint Office—get access to different resources, connect with speakers, connect with us in general, you can go to This website connects state departments of transportation and other stakeholders like yourselves to resources, including infrastructure planning, implantation guidance, data and tools, news, and events. And also if you're interested in technical assistance, you can submit your request there. Next slide please.

And so if you're interested in both either contacting us, you can go to as you see in the picture on the lower right. But also we encourage you to stay abreast of updates in Joint Office by going to Sign up with your email to the box and you will get information on all the things that are happening in the Joint Office, including our webinars, information and opportunities, technical updates, and the like. So next slide please.

All right. Thank you for that. I hope that presentation by the Joint Office was engaging and informative for everybody here on the webinar. So now we're going to go into questions. Typically in a webinar we try to get a good sense of who is in the webinar, what organization you come from, and what groups that you represent.

So we have two questions, and I will ask Samantha to pull up the first question. So the first question is, what sector are you from? Please take a little bit of time. Please fill in that question. And in a minute, we'll get the breakdown. Okay. I think that's enough time. Let's see what we have.

Okay. Great. So we have a fairly diverse set of people in the audience. We have about—majority of us—or 40% of the majority come from the non-government public sector with state governments, EV charging station operators or EV supply equipment manufacturers right behind, about equal. All right. So pretty diverse. Great. So let's go to the next question.

Samantha, is that coming up soon? There we go. Patience. So the second question is, what region of the country are you from? So we have various different regions. Please submit that, your answer to that question. I'll put a few seconds for people to answer.

OK. What do we have? Again, quite diverse across the country. The leading indicator is 20% from the southeast, 23% from northeast, not far behind with 23%. And in third is the southwest from 17%. So pretty much all across the country. We even have a few international members. That is great. We love when we have people from across the world joining into our webinars. Yes, the mid-Atlantic is within—actually the northeast if I can tell you that.

All right let's close that. So thank you for taking the time to answer those questions and listen to our introduction to the Joint Office. Again, I hope that was informative. I will now turn it over to my amazing colleague, who serves as the equity lead for Joint Office who will take over.

Monisha Shah, Joint Office of Energy and Transportation: Thanks, Richard. Really appreciate you giving that introduction. So we have a really exciting webinar planned for you guys today. And I just wanted to give a little bit of background on what the different opportunities might be for minority-owned businesses, diverse business enterprises, or small and disadvantaged businesses to participate in the different funding opportunities that Richard described earlier.

So as we mentioned earlier, this is a very historic time where there's a lot of funding coming forward, especially for new, clean transportation infrastructure. A couple of them that I'll highlight here for the NEVI Formula Grant program. This funding usually goes to state departments of transportation. They received their first year of funding last fall, and they're gearing up to put forward their plans for this year.

Minority businesses definitely could apply to state requests for proposal, which are starting to roll out from the different states. And you can go to to look at all the state plans that were posted last year to see kind of how maybe your region or your state is planning to move forward with their EV infrastructure implementation.

I will say NEVI was not designated as a disadvantaged business enterprise program by Congress, but there are a lot of resources that state DOTs can put forward to reduce barriers for disadvantaged business enterprises, and many states are also considering different ways of including minority businesses in their efforts. So that's one piece in the funding pie.

Another exciting program which is live right now is the Charging and Fueling Infrastructure Grant. Applications are due at the end of this month, May 30. In the criteria for how the different applications will be scored, criteria four will be prioritized, especially if the applications are highly recommended or recommended in that category.

And it does include language promoting local inclusive economic development and entrepreneurship such as the utilization of disadvantaged business enterprises, minority-owned businesses, women-owned businesses, or ADA firms. So you can go to this link at the Federal Highway Administration for more information about the CFI Grant to see how you could partner with the eligible applicants there.

And then lastly, our Joint Office is also going to release a funding opportunity soon. This is a bill—Bipartisan Infrastructure Law program, and so has a community benefits plan in it. And you can find out more information on as well for upcoming information about this funding opportunity.

So with that, I want to turn it to our fabulous speakers that we have today. We have Angela Washington from the Minority Business Development Agency; Natalie King from Dunamis; Edwin Luevanos from Citizen Energy; and Sheryl Ponds. So I'm going to switch to a different slide deck here. Give me one second as we do that. And Angela, maybe just get ready for me to pull up your slides. Hopefully, I can do this.

Angela Washington, Minority Business Development Agency: OK. Can you guys hear me OK?

Monisha Shah: Yeah.

Angela Washington: Wonderful.

Monisha Shah: I'm trying to get the slides. Sorry about that. It was fun with technical aspects of these webinars.

Angela Washington: Happy not to be the person controlling the slides. Rather, reading off them will be a nice job for me to take today. So good luck.

Monisha Shah: All right. One more second. We're almost there. And lift off. Here we go.

Angela Washington: All right. Well, thank you for having me today, Monisha, Richard, and the other panelists. Honored to be here to talk about some of the resources that are available when sourcing out minority contractors, whether it's from the federal market or the private sector. I'm Angela Washington, a senior advisor for contracts at the U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency. We can move to the next slide.

Here to talk about some of the major federal investments. I just wanted to illuminate as a result of Executive Order 13985, many of the investments that you've seen like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, American Rescue Plan, CHIPS Act, even IRA has a lot of provisions around supporting equity.

And even when these particular initiatives don't have a DPE goal or if they don't have any special provisions that make you particularly target minority businesses, at the federal level, we're using Executive Order 13985 as our guide for equity, meaning doing things that are practical. Maybe not necessarily mandated, but things that make sense in terms of engaging minority businesses and minority communities.

So whether that's looking at what type of evaluation plan you put in place, these are things you may want to consider going forward. These conversations are happening all across the federal government from every agency. And we're looking at how do we encourage eligible entities, recipients of these federal funds, and their subrecipients to ensure that they are creating a nexus between equity at the department of commerce and MBDA. Next slide.

Really quickly about MBDA. MBDA is the Minority Business Development Agency. It is a part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. It is one of 13 bureaus. If you don't know about commerce, we do the weather, the census, and many other technological things. But apart from those roles, MBDA, we are the agency who focuses on equity.

While there's not a mandate for minority participation, there's certainly a desire for inclusion across the federal government. And MBDA is that agency focused on how to help that happen from a policy level, from a program level, and how we engage and provide information to our community and all of our stakeholders. You can go to the next slide.

About our mission here at MBDA. We are the only federal government agency solely dedicated to the growth of minority businesses. We don't just have an emphasis on minority businesses, but how do we use minority businesses to unlock America's economic potential? If you look at minority businesses over time, minority businesses play a significant role in the ecosystem of driving our economy.

So we want to make sure that minority businesses are growing, that they are excelling. So as we infuse capital into our country and we rebuild, we just want to make sure that we're rebuilding equitably. So that's MBDA's mission. Proud of it, happy to be here to advocate for it. Next slide.

Just a little quick background. I wanted to give a slide to give some perspective about MBDA. If you look at MBDA, we were created in 1969 by executive order by Richard Nixon. And over time, this agency has sustained through Republican or Democratic administration. That doesn't matter. But most recently in 2021, we were codified, made permanent by President Biden in the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act, known as IIJA, in November of last year. This agency made MBDA a permanent agency.

I would beg to say that was based on the growth that we've seen of minority businesses. If you look at back in 1969, there were less than a half a million minority businesses. Really, about 320,000. Today, there are almost 100,000 minority firms with employer paid firms. And that is a significant growth that we've seen.

And we believe that MBDA is responsible for that. If you look at—and I gave you the wrong number. I apologize. There are roughly about 320,000 MBEs. And today, there're over 10 million MBEs. The slide is a little dated, and we've had some changes throughout COVID. But minority businesses are growing. And when you look at revenue in terms of minority firms are growing, people say that minority businesses are not out there.

Well, I am here to tell you that they are. There are minority businesses everywhere, they're growing, they're thriving, and they want to be a part of rebuilding this economy. Next slide. I didn't mean to take as much time there, but it's important to note that minority business are on the scene, and they're growing every day.

One of the ways that we support minority businesses across the country to ensure that they are shored up, we invest money in technical assistance providers. We provide funding in a number of categories, but most specifically, management and technical assistance. Businesses come in, they need help. They need help understanding their capacity. They need help understanding where and how to connect.

We've created ecosystems all across the federal government. MBDA is just one of those particular ecosystems. Happy to be able to talk about MBDA here today. But in terms of our investment, we have 88 grantees across the country. I will say that's a small scale compared to SBA and the number of SBCs across the country that you can reach out to.

But when you're looking for diverse firms in particular, when you're looking for minority firms that have worked with an advocacy or an outreach organization, MBDA has a portfolio of minority firms that you can access. Next slide. And I apologize. I'm going quickly, but you all have an amazing panel today. And I did not want to stand between you and this amazing panel.

One of the things that I really wanted to point out in my time with you all is sourcing diverse suppliers. Monisha and I talked about this a lot. What are some traditional and non-traditional ways that you can source minority businesses? And I wanted to illuminate, again here, some of these federal investments. And if you look at these four resources on the screen, you have the Minority Business Development Agency, you have the department of transportation, you have SBA, and you have the department of defense.

And how so? The department of commerce, we are—MBDA, as I mentioned, is a part of the department of commerce. That's one federal agency. You can look on the screen. I won't bore you with the numbers, but we're making significant investments across the country to make sure that there are technical assistance providers, to make sure there's entrepreneurial programs, and to make sure that there's a pathway to capital.

So at MBDA, we have resources for minority businesses to come and get assistance. But they are also a place where states and other entities can go to engage the minority business community. So you have a partner, you have a place to go when you're looking for diverse businesses. And we have a little bit of money too.

I'm excited to say that during this administration, MBDA, the president proposed to double our budget. We've had about a $25 to $50 million budget for the last 50 years. And now today, we are looking at over $100 million budget proposal by the president. So there's a commitment to equity.

So I'm throwing out some of these numbers just so it's kind of ringing in your mind that there is truly a commitment to equity. And it's not just about talk. It's money. It's money being put on the table. And if you ever really want to know if somebody's serious, see if they open up their wallet. When they open up their wallet, they're serious. The federal government has opened up its wallet.

Not to belabor MBDA, but the small business technical resource centers. These centers that are funded by the department of transportation also provide critical access to technical assistance to businesses seeking to engage in this space. These are also a great place to go and create a community partner when you're trying to go up into those federal dollars as well as trying to reach back down into to the community, the SBTRCs are a wonderful resource in the department of transportation wheelhouse.

The other is the SBDCs, the Small Business Development Centers. SBDCs are all over the country. I think my last count, there are about 1,000 SBDCs across the country. These SBDCs are another place where businesses can go and get technical assistance and being prepared to engage across this wonderful investment.

The last you may have heard in the past, they're called PTACs, Procurement Technical Assistance Centers. PTACs have recently got a name change. There's a lot of technical things behind that. But the thing you should know about Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, they are very much focused around businesses that are trying to engage and penetrate that federal market.

So they have a high level of success of vetting businesses and getting businesses engaged at the contracting technical level. So people say, well, this is duplicate. It's really not. Most of these programs are very complementary, and you'll find that they're engaging at various levels. This slide here is a very important slide that I really wanted to illuminate. In fact, it's how I earned myself this introductory spot for you all today, which I'm honored, by the way.

Aside from those locations where you can go—and this is important for minority businesses as well as entities searching for minority businesses. In order to be a bona fide government contractor, you need to register in There is a lot of information that businesses are required to put in, mostly around who they are and profiling their capabilities, past performance, and flagging any other challenges that they may have.

I brought that out to say because this is a very deeply vetted source of finding minority businesses. When you say that you can't find minority businesses, and you've called your friends, you've called around, once you start with the data tool like and you search for an entity, you can find businesses of all sizes and all shapes.

There's another resource that I want to point out really quickly. It's the SBA subnet. It's not as robust as, but it will allow you to find businesses, find their contact information, and even search their NAICS codes. But you can always take that information from subnet and go back over to SAM if you want to look at a more detailed profile, including their financial status.

These tools are available publicly on the websites that I've listed., if you just Google search SBA subnet, you can use these to identify businesses. I hope that I have not gone over my time. I tried to use it efficiently, quickly. But you can always find me

That's my email address. I'm not ashamed to share it. I'm not always quick on the draw to get back to your emails, but I will get to you. But again, should you have any additional questions for me. But you can always go to our website,, and find a business center across the country to connect locally.

Monisha, if I may, I'd like to just give one more nugget. As a part of 13985 and bringing equity across the federal government, the federal agencies are committed to ensuring that equity is built into all of the action plans. MBDA recently signed an MOU with the department of energy as well as the department of transportation.

We're working across many federal agencies to make sure that the partnership for equity is there. And I must tell you, I've been very pleased. All of the federal agencies have been very, very receptive to understanding how to access minority businesses and how to reach these communities.

So I would implore you to continue to follow many of the directives, the directives that are coming down by simply going to If you go to, there are a number of executive orders that you can find. And I think I met my time. Ms. King has been put up to the screen. And no problem, but thank you so much, Monisha. And best of luck Ms. King on your presentation.

Natalie King, Dunamis: Thank you, Angela. Thank you so much.

Angela Washington: Yes.

Monisha Shah: Thank you, Angela. I have to say working with Angela is an absolute pleasure. Her energy is so contagious. And we really wanted to share that information with you guys so that as you're putting together your applications for things like the Charging and Fueling Infrastructure Grant or trying to figure out how to implement the NEVI program that you can find these federal resources, which are located all across the country, know especially if you're looking to partner up with minority businesses.

So definitely reach out to Angela. And we've got some other colleagues that are going to pop on during the Q&A from our other federal family agencies. But I want to turn it to Natalie King. She is an amazing woman, has done a lot with her company. And Natalie, I'm going to turn it to you to talk about your work.

Natalie King: Thank you, Monisha. And good afternoon, everyone. I am Natalie King. I'm the founder and CEO of Dunamis Clean Energy Partners and Dunamis Charge. And so I founded Dunamis Clean Energy Partners in 2012, so we're a little over a decade old. And we founded the company to provide energy efficiency solutions for commercial and industrial property owners.

So we started off in the clean energy tech space over a decade ago, and really have followed a vertical integration model with respect to how we service our community and how we service our customers with respect to providing energy efficiency solutions in this changing time with respect to climate change.

We are focused in that vertical integration now on electric vehicle charging stations. And in 2018, we developed a strategy to manufacture electric vehicle charging stations right here in the city of Detroit where we are based. We are the first Black woman-owned electric vehicle charging manufacturer in this world.

And we are very happy to have the full breadth and width and support of this administration from the Biden administration department of energy, department of transportation, and really getting behind this initiative with respect to EV adoption and supporting equity within the space for diverse companies like ours that are going into the EV infrastructure field. And so we know that for us, manufacturing here within the state of Michigan, within the city of Detroit, is really a very holistic approach for us.

Equity is at the core of what we are doing, and to see the support of this Joint Office and to see the support of the administration in really promulgating and pushing equity for diverse companies to participate in what I call the fourth industrial revolution in this country with respect to EV adoption and what is coming down the pike with NEVI and with CFI and the IRA, it's so important that diverse companies be included in that process and in what I consider to be a multitrillion wealth transfer over the next 10 to 15 years.

So really, one of our main focuses with respect to Dunamis Charge and our electric vehicle charging stations is to not only make an American-made product by American workers, where 67% right now of all of our manufacturing content is domestic content. So we're really, really proud of that. We're creating jobs, we're creating careers, we're creating a focus on this EV infrastructure industry that is inclusive for everyone.

And a part of that is our workforce development program. And so we believe that for a company like Dunamis that's a Black woman-owned company that we have a focus on hiring directly from the communities in which we are servicing. So workforce development is a very big part of our holistic model.

We've created a national workforce development program that provides electric vehicle infrastructure training and certification for technicians with respect to assembly and manufacturing of the EV charging hardware. In addition to technicians for operations and maintenance and repair, our approach is to partner. And I really want to emphasize that for all MBEs that are on this call today and then all others that are interested in working with diverse companies and partnership that collaboration is going to be key for us as MBEs.

So we're partnering with other diverse companies to provide this training and certification to reach out to the most disproportionately impacted disenfranchised communities with respect to climate change and air quality and water quality within their communities, environmental justice communities.

And so what we've done through our manufacturing plant, so as you see a 32,000-square-foot facility right here in Detroit, we are going out to the community to hire Black and Brown workers, to hire women, to hire those that are the most disenfranchised and impacted by greenhouse gas emission in their communities to build our charging stations.

We are partnering with companies like Apple and Chargerhelp—which is a Black woman-owned operations, maintenance, and repair company located out of Los Angeles—Cummins, DTE Energy, our utility company here, Stellantis, and others to really promote and push social equity within our communities to ensure that not only are we going to be manufacturing what we consider to be a best in class product, absolutely, and a U.S.-based product, but we are going to be able to help empower communities by way of this industry. The next slide, please.

So with that, on the next slide, we wanted to talk about how we can make a difference, how Dunamis is going to make an impact in this. And I just want to say very briefly that what Angela said is so important because right now, as a diverse business in the clean energy tech space, it's so important that we take advantage of all of the opportunities that are being offered by this administration.

It is an unprecedented investment in EV at this time. And it's an unprecedented investment in energy efficiency and clean energy technology that we have not seen and possibly may not see again for some time. So it is imperative that diverse-owned companies and companies that are focused on assisting and bringing up and including those communities that might otherwise not have the opportunity to participate in this really create very strategic and intentional approaches to including those communities and including those businesses.

So this slide says, what can Dunamis Charge do for you? Well, with of course, providing a best-in-class product, our goal is to make a phenomenal product by Detroiters for the rest of this country and for the rest of this world, and then empowering other vendors within the state of Michigan and throughout the country to be a part of that supply chain. It's very important to us with respect to our domestic content that we're utilizing for supply chain that we are lending to economic development throughout this country.

I think that one of the other benefits with respect to diverse content is that collaboration and partnership that I referred to. So there are diversity goals that the IRA and the Justice40 Initiative and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law have put in place. And so the Justice40 Initiative requires that 40% of the amount of the dollars that are being allocated are going to benefit these diverse communities or disenfranchised and underrepresented, underserved communities.

And also as a part of that to bring in MBDs, to bring in DDEs that are able to participate in this for economic growth on the entrepreneurial end. And so with Dunamis Charge, we know that we can offer a very diverse and a very unique positioning along with our other fellow MBEs that are part of this energy infrastructure or EV infrastructure and clean energy technology industry to meet those diversity goals.

And to be able to access those government incentives that are out there, and to be able to provide the education and the community engagement for those communities that might not know about the government incentives that are out there. So to act as a bridge for those communities, it is absolutely imperative that we educate our communities about what's there. So to demystify the process and let them know what's available for them.

In addition to that, we feel that the workforce development and the ability to really spur economic growth is such a wonderful opportunity. So I don't want to go over my time. I'm really, really excited about what the Joint Office is doing. I'm excited about what the MBDA is providing for those that want to be a part of this burgeoning industry, and excited about the investment of the corporate partners and utility partners as well in this.

It really is a very exciting time and it's unprecedented. And I thank you so much for department of transportation and department of energy for providing this as an educational tool for all of those that have the ability to participate and bring some economic growth to our communities. So thank you.

Monisha Shah: Thank you, Natalie. It was great to hear more about Dunamis. And I'm going to turn it to Edwin Luevanos. As a kid who grew up bilingual, it's awesome to see some of the really creative offerings that his company is providing, especially some Spanish-first offering. So Edwin, I'm going to turn it over to you.

Edwin Luevanos, Citizen Energy: Thank you, Monisha. And can everybody hear me?

Monisha Shah: Yes.

Edwin Luevanos: OK, perfect. Thanks, Monisha, and everyone for having me. And Natalie, I appreciate all your comments. I'm really just going to piggyback off of what you were saying and focus a little bit on the communities that we're working on and this national initiative of Avanza that we recently started.

But before I do that, let me just tell you a little bit about my company. We've been around for about 10 years. I'm the CEO of Citizen Energy. A couple of friends, we used to work at the U.S. Department of Energy down in Forrestal. We were very passionate about energy and still are—energy transformation. And we decided to make the jump to the private sector and play that side of the field.

We focus predominantly on community engagement, project development, and finance of clean energy projects and energy efficiency. Our space has been predominantly in the commercial and industrial space, buildings. How we got involved in the EV industry, about 2 and 1/2 years ago or so, when the buzz sort of started. I know for many, it started before that.

But in our markets, we had a lot of customers, portfolio owners of multifamily housing and commercial real estate that wanted EV charging. And we said, hey, this is a natural extension of what we finance in the projects we develop. So we started doing that. And very quickly, we started to see the barriers that took place in adopting EV charging infrastructure in multifamily housing and commercial real estate.

And so that gave us a lot of experience. And what I think inspired Avanza, the initiative I'm going to speak to about quickly is that if more affluent communities were having trouble adopting, the disadvantaged communities, they didn't even know where to start, especially Spanish-speaking communities, for example.

So we set out and said, look, we're going to change this. There was a big change coming. As Natalie noted it here and Angela and others. So we're going to lead in particularly the Latino community. And to my final introductory point there, one of the questions that was asked of us to say, what do you think our role is as MBEs, minority businesses in this movement?

And I said, well, it's exactly what we're doing, which is connecting with those communities that the government, private sector, politicians, policies, others have a hard time connecting with. So I feel like one of the big roles that minority businesses have is to make those connections with those communities. In particular, for us, I'm a son of immigrants from Mexico, very humble beginnings at Fresno, California.

And so we have a strong connection to the Central Valley and other Latino communities. And so when we started Avanza, and this is my first slide, we set out on a path to help these low income Latino communities make the switch to EV technology. And the goals—many of you are familiar with these goals—we want to eliminate tailpipe emissions and air pollutants.

We want them to save money. We have some interesting financial models and solutions that we've created for them to at least save 50%, measure and verify that through technology. And then have them feel that they're part of this movement, making significant contributions to mitigating climate change. One of our staff members talks about this all the time how EVs is one of those things that communities can easily feel like they're part of addressing climate change. So we're very much focused on that. Next slide here quickly.

This is a quick overview of what we call our comprehensive EV adoption solution. I'll go through it very quickly. It starts at the beginning with stakeholder engagement. We're working specifically to meet all the requirements on low income census tracts. We're working with the community and stakeholders. And more importantly, we're making sure that these private landowners or public, government landowners that they make commitments to the communities.

And we acquire these site host commitments to deploy infrastructure, which is or what we call equitable infrastructure investments, which is the next item there. And that includes charging stations, EV car sharing, workforce development. Workforce development, I think, is very important in our communities because that's an easy way for folks to get involved and really understand what the technology is, great entry point.

We also have a bilingual education and outreach, ride and drive events, web and digital tools, social media, traditional media. And the last item is once we've brought the infrastructure, we've got the community engagement, we've got the education in Spanish, we now want to help them make these vehicles affordable. So we're organizing aggregating demand, organizing purchasing co-ops. To negotiate with OEMs and dealerships to obtain discounts.

And the next slide, we'll talk a little bit about our first case study or one of our case studies. This is a project that's currently underway. We started it last year, mainly working with multifamily housing sites communities in Maryland. It's about 160 that we're working with right now. And we're deploying everything that I mentioned earlier.

Very important, we've done site visits at all these communities. We understand their needs. We're also doing assessments in some of them for charging infrastructure. And again, we have a very comprehensive approach to the data, making sure they fit all the Justice40, low income, apprenticeship—all the requirements. And our first co-op actually is an outgrowth of one of the counties there, where again, we're going to get discounts for these communities.

Overall, I think we're going to be impacting about 1,200 families is our goal there. And again, we're doing this all across the country in majority Latino communities. Next slide. This is my contact information. We are SBA ADA certified. Please reach out to me, and remember that equity is critical to building a better America.

Monisha Shah: Thanks, Edwin. All right. We're going to turn it to our last speaker, Sheryl Ponds from DaiTech. I'm just going to share your slides. Thanks for hanging in with me. I have an engineering degree, but I don't know that I'm the technical whiz at the PowerPoint. All right. Sheryl, take it away.

Sheryl Ponds, DaiTechCorp: I'm just hitting the mute. Thank you, Monisha. And thank you, Natalie and Edwin for being a part of this panel. What an esteemed group of people to hang out with. And also Angela. An esteemed group of people to hang out with today. My name is Sheryl Ponds. Many of you may know me as DaiTech CEO. My company Dai Technologies Corporation is the heart and soul of EV charging. You can go to the next, Monisha.

OK. So we are the heart and soul because creativity or creative problem solving is our art form, and our technical acumen is our soul. And what we mean by that is that we have what it takes to be in this space as an EV charging infrastructure contractor. And we're moving to the space of EV charging infrastructure developer.

I am the founder and CEO. My background is as an award-winning commercial real estate asset manager. I've worked in a number of roles, including as an engineer, recently got my PMP cert, and known for placemaking and branding for government projects. And because I'm one of the first in this space—I am the first Black woman-owned EV charging infrastructure contracting company in the nation.

And because I'm early mover in this space, I've been afforded the opportunity to be a thought leader. And the value proposition for our company is primarily to offer concierge-like services for EV adoption and have a focus enabling EV charging for places where people live. So that's in single family homes, that's in apartment buildings, that's in multi-family dwellings, as well as mixed use developments. Next slide, please.

Okay. So one of the things that I want to talk to you about, since it was about entrepreneurship, I'm sure there are quite a few people who want to know how do I get in this game and be a part of the EV adoption ecosystem? The second coming of the golden age of the automobile industry, the electrification of transportation. Like Natalie said previously, it's our fourth industrial revolution, okay?

And so how do you get in? Well, basically what we did, what I did at DaiTechCorp is I started with the basics. We talked about being the soul. The basis are, I started with an executive summary using a business model canvas. I had seen opportunities in the marketplace, and I had just made up in my mind, I'm not going to let this technological industrial revolution opportunity slip by me like some others had, like social media, like the internet, like even building a business managing emails and campaigns and things of that nature.

And I leapt into this industry, one, because it started many years ago as a young child in middle school in the eighth grade, I entered a science fair and presented a sustainability project. And it planted the seeds for me to be in this space that I'm in right now. And I really didn't think I was going to go back into technical field to the extent that I am now.

But thank God I had that base, and I was able to move forward into this industry once I decided I wanted to participate. And from my observation of the market and where it was going and the desire to stop waiting in line at Costco for gasoline and what I had done in the past in my profession and also my personal interest fueled me enough to go for opportunities and EV adoption.

And then I also leveraged my commercial real estate background. At the end of the day, there's a lot of talk about sustainability, clean air, environmental justice, improving or eliminating health disparities. But one thing we don't talk about is how much of this business is related to real estate. It does not happen unless someone who owns the property is fully cooperating with the persons or the entities that want to plant an EV charging station on their property. And I understood that.

And based on that understanding of commercial real estate and real estate in general and have had those relationships in the past, I leveraged what I had. I focused on the industry. I built relationships and expertise very similar to the same way it did when I entered into commercial real estate, and I immersed myself in product knowledge.

And at the end of the day—and I admit, my early years in this space, I was all over the place. I was chasing everything trying to figure things out. And at some point in time, I decided I would carve a niche for myself. I have been leaning towards the multifamily market, been leaning towards single family market.

And then I made a post—you'll see this picture on the right hand side of the screen—that's me standing by a charging station for an installation at a workforce housing apartment. It's a naturally occurring workforce housing apartment complex. And I put the post up, and I mentioned workforce housing. No different than any of the posts that I'd done in the past. Posted it up and it went viral. And that was recent.

And so that basically verified and validated that going into the multifamily market, looking at opportunities where people live was going to be where DaiTechCorp would have most of its success. And so at the end of the day, what I'm suggesting to you and the audience, those who want to enter into this industry, infrastructure work is not for everyone. At the end of the day, it is construction work. Okay?

Everybody doesn't have the temperament to be in the construction industry. It is a project plan, some estimation, and a whole lot of paperwork behind it. And also, there's also regulatory concerns and permitting and just the whole myriad of all the moving parts. But there's so many other areas in this industry.

You see Natalie is into manufacturing. Edward has spent a lot of time in consumer and market engagement or constituent engagement with getting his company launched off the ground. I spent most of my time in single family homes as we continue to expand into the multifamily market. We all play to our strengths. So next slide, please.

So what I'm saying to you is that—you can keep clicking—it's important for you—keep clicking, Monisha—for you to get in where you fit in. We need people in recycling who wants to build recycling businesses. We need engineers who can come up with solutions for how to install an EV charging station more efficiently. We need folks in—can you go back to the other side.

We need accountants who can make sense of our actual experiences introducing this hybrid technology into the marketplace in a way that people who are wedded to GAAP accounting understand so that we can raise investment dollars and get loans from banks. We need folks who know how to estimate projects as well as established CTOs and CFOs and also site work construction people.

We need all of you, all of your talents. And what we'd like for you to do, if you're interested in this industry, definitely find a way where you can insert yourself and be of service to other businesses in this industry and support us. And that is how you're going to build your business. So that's all I got to say.

This right here, this QR code is to a survey. I'd be very interested to learn what you know about EV adoption and EV charging. For some of you, this is the first time you've been educated not only about the market. We didn't exactly explain what it was all about. But I would love to hear from you and learn how we may support your company or your organization as well as your community—excuse me—in its quest for EV adoption. And that's it.

Monisha Shah: Thank you so much, Sheryl, Natalie, and Edwin. Really appreciate you guys sharing your stories and information about your companies and all the amazing work that you're doing. There are so many minority businesses out there that are part of the EV industry already. We couldn't feature all of them today, but we kind of hand-selected a few that are operating across the entire supply chain.

We really encourage you to go out and check out some of the resources that Angela mentioned. I also— wondering if I could have a couple of my colleagues pop up on video. Tamara Miles is from department of energy's Office of Small Disadvantaged Business Utilization. Brittany Young is from department of transportation's OSDOBU.

And Kerene Tayloe is from department of energy's Office of Economic Impact and Diversity. Please put any questions you might have into the chat. We've got about five minutes. I wanted to maybe turn to our federal partners here and just say we got a question that came in through the registration.

What role can local, government, and regional federal offices play in supporting minority-owned businesses and the EV infrastructure industry facilitating mentorship, relationships, promoting sustainable economic growth, and social justice in the community? And I think Angela you already talked about this in your presentation, but I also wanted to see if Kerene—go for it, Kerene.

Kerene Tayloe, U.S. Department of Energy: I just want to reiterate that there's so many businesses that reach out to us all of the time that want to engage around the NEVI plan, especially with the Charging and Fuel Infrastructure Grant. Like there's a community component and environmental justice component. And I think it would be to the advantage of our state partners and the municipalities that are applying to include those communities so that they could be at the table to create the solutions that they want.

And as well as we think about the economic opportunities that are flowing to the states through the NEVI plan, we want to make sure that as many diverse businesses, those that are presented here but then across the board in different regions can be a part of not only developing the infrastructure, but being through the whole process as subcontractors, as suppliers, et cetera.

We want to make sure that these dollars that are coming through BIL, through IRA, can benefit all communities. And this is a great opportunity to, I think, broaden the table and have different perspectives and different skill sets, be a part of developing your state's NEVI plan. So I just know this is a question that I get quite often. Almost every single day, there's so many businesses of color that want to be a part of this. And we just encourage states to think critically about how equity looks with further state and who's able to participate.

Angela Washington: Can I add something to that, Monisha?

Monisha Shah: I think Sheryl's got her hand up first, Angela.

Angela Washington: Oh, sorry. I didn't see that.

Edwin Luevanos: I'm quick on the draw on the hand raising.

Angela Washington: No worries.

Sheryl Ponds: The one thing—and out of my own experience—the one thing I would like for local and state governments, I would like for them to be more receptive. There's this urban legend out there that there are these vast companies that have all this experience in this space in spite of the fact it's a brand new technology.

So I can attest that I've approached a number of local governments who say, well, what is your past performance? Well, there is none because we haven't been doing it for the last five years except unless of course you live in California. So the past performance is the leading edge that we're on right now.

So when I install a charging station on Saturday, that's past performance. And I would love for the local governments and state governments to count it as my past performance because trust me, we have more experience doing this and a whole lot of other folk regardless of our ethnicity, our background, our gender. We're in the game, we've been in the game from the beginning, okay? And we want to be treated as such.

Natalie King: I'm not going to jump in front of you, Angela. I'm just going to say amen. Thank you.

Sheryl Ponds: Thank you.

Angela Washington: I think we all wanted to say amen on that one, so I don't mind. I was only going to reiterate that at the federal level at MBDA we are being asked by many of the federal agencies to look at their funding opportunities, and help to develop ways to provide guidance so that states and other entities, as we call them, eligible entities receive funding that they're considering some innovative ways.

And I will tell you that those things are developing by way possibly of policy. But in the meantime, there will be a lot of guidance. And I can just give you one quick idea at the state level, your scoring models. You can adjust your scoring models, you can adjust scaling. You can adjust how you view past performance, to Sheryl's point.

There are a number of technical things that we're putting on paper that you'll see coming down. So I would highly encourage the states to already be thinking proactively and at a minimum about developing lists, potential lists to show and demonstrate that you actually went and looked for those businesses.

Monisha Shah: All right. Well, Kerene, I see you that your hand is up. I just want to make sure we can close out the webinar. Kerene, do you want to have a last word?

Kerene Tayloe: Tamara has her hand up, too.

Monisha Shah: Oh, okay. Tamara, why don't you go? You haven't had a chance to chime in.

Tamara Miles, U.S. Department of Energy: Good afternoon. I hope that you all are hearing me. Great webinar. I hope the audience found the information to be useful. And thank you so much for the three entities that spoke of your experience in this area. I definitely think that from the OSDOBU's perspective, the DOE OSDOBU, we're very much interested in making sure that small businesses and really disadvantaged small businesses are able to get engaged in this new economy.

And so I wanted to just offer up that my office does provide one-on-one consultations with folks interested in getting involved in this line of work or other aspects of working with the department of energy. So please do reach out to my office for one-on-one consultations on how we can connect you to opportunities in this and other areas.

I can be reached at an email address,, and we'd be happy to speak with you on a one-to-one basis to connect you some of these resources and help match you to opportunities. So thank you very much.

Monisha Shah: Thanks, Tamara. As you can see on the screen, we've got some links to additional resources. We'll make sure that this recording is posted to We have a couple of upcoming webinars on May 18 actually on how to design EV chargers to be accessible, especially for Americans with disabilities. And then, May 23, a webinar on ensuring reliable charging experience.

And so as always, you can go to to find out more information. And we really appreciate everyone participating, and really want to thank our panelists today. You guys did a phenomenal job. And really appreciate all of the work that you're doing. Starting and running your own business is not an easy task, and we applaud you for all of your work. So with that, I'm going to close out the webinar. And look out for our next opportunities on Thanks.

Angela Washington: Thank you.

Natalie King: Thank you.

Edwin Luevanos: Thank you.