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Benin is Powering Up and Wants U.S. Products and Expertise

Blogged By: 
Doug Barry is a Senior International Trade Specialist
Created on July 13, 2015
 

Benin AmbassadorIt’s not every day when a credentialed ambassador to the United States leans over, eyes brightening, and says, “If small U.S. companies come to Africa, they will make money.  A lot of money.”

He smiles as he savors the words a lot, as if tasting something delicious.

But then it’s back to reality.  He’s asked about perceptions among U.S. businesspeople that much of Africa is decidedly unpalatable, unhealthy, unfriendly, and unprofitable.

The Benin Ambassador to the United States Omar Arouna has heard it all before.  “Benin has been a stable democracy since 1990,” he explains.  “We have the same values, the same aspirations as the American people.  We see things exactly like the American people.”

He wants more Americans to do business in Benin, a country the size of Kentucky on the coast of West Africa. Benin’s 10 million people work mostly in the service sector and in agriculture, where the main exports are cotton, pineapple, and cashews.

The Ins and Outs of Alternative Financing

Blogged By: 
Bridget Weston Pollack is the Vice President of Marketing and Communication
Created on July 13, 2015
 

Apple & OrangeAfter the recent financial crisis, traditional banks are more reluctant than ever to fund small businesses. Entrepreneurs need not be discouraged though, as a new trend has emerged in the world of finance: “alternative lending.” What exactly is alternative lending and is it right for your business? Here are some resources to help demystify the latest options in small business financing.

“Alternative Lending” Defined

You may walk through open doors of your local bank only to hit a brick wall. According to this Alternative Lending e-guide, traditional banks decline up to 80% of small business loan applications.

Advocacy Research Examines How Patenting Changes May Affect Small Innovators

Blogged By: 
SBA News
Created on June 30, 2015
 

Patenting and Innovative Startups:  Putting the America Invents Act in a Broader  Economic ContextThe Office of Advocacy, an independent office within the U.S. Small Business Administration, released an Issue Brief entitled “Patenting and Innovative Startups: Putting the America Invents Act (AIA) in a Broader Economic Context.” The issue brief summarizes some of the potential small business outcomes of the AIA and contextualizes those outcomes for innovative startups. This issue brief finds that policy changes that affect patenting could affect innovative startups as they may heavily utilize patents to raise funds to continue to innovate.

The importance of patents to the economy

Patents are at the crux of innovation in the economy. Patents provide a framework by which innovative research can take place and new technologies can be disseminated. In particular, patents provide a clear economic incentive to undertake innovative research that has the potential to substantially grow startups.1 Patents protect researchers and investors with clear determinations of intellectual property rights while also providing a vehicle with which to share newly developed technologies without a fear of losing ownership of intellectual property.2

#MyAAPIStory: Albert K. Shen

Blogged By: 
Albert K. Shen, National Deputy Director of the MBDA

In the spirit of Immigrant Heritage Month, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) celebrates the diverse dimensions of our nation’s communities and the strength we draw from our varied immigrant identities.  From cultural traditions to philosophies, many of us are shaped by our own or our family’s immigrant experiences coming to this country and transitioning into the “American life.”

In this blog series, we will explore the immigration stories of different AAPI federal leaders and how these experiences have shaped their commitment to public service.

A New Federal Pilot Program for Small and Emerging Pension Fund Managers

Blogged By: 
Nick Perkins, MBDA Business Development Specialist
Created on June 30, 2015
 

ChartThis month, the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) introduced the Smaller Manager Pilot Program.  This exciting opportunity opens the door for emerging manager (EM) and other smaller firms to manage up to $250 million in U.S. core fixed Income federal pension funds.  EMs are generally defined as ethnic minority fund managers (or fund of fund managers) whose funds typically fall below $2 billion.  The new pilot program will allow EMs to compete in a request for proposal (RFP) that opened on June 15th and closes at the end of July.  The review process will identify up to five firms that will be granted fund management contracts for fixed Income portions of the PBGC funds sometime in mid to late 2016.

Emerging manager funds often outperform larger non-diverse funds across studies by both public and private entities.1 By utilizing emerging managers, funds can potentially Increase and diversify investments into high-growth demographic sectors, while fostering innovation and healthy competition.

 

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