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Doing Business in Africa Campaign: A Success Story

Blogged By: 
Calynn Jenkins, International Trade Administration Intern
Created on July 2, 2013
 

President Obama recently said sub-Saharan Africa is poised to be the world’s next greatest economic success story, with U.S. exports to Africa topping $21 billion a year. In fact, Sub-Saharan Africa is home to six of the ten fastest-growing economies in the world, and enormous opportunities exist for U.S. companies to not only do well – but to do good.

That’s why then-Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank launched the Doing Business in Africa Campaign (DBIA) last November in Johannesburg, South Africa. The campaign furthers the President’s vision of more robust commercial engagement in sub-Saharan Africa by helping U.S. businesses benefit from the export and investment opportunities in the region.

President Obama said on the day of its launch, “Through the DBIA campaign, we are responding to the emergence of African regional economic communities, and working with our partners to deepen integration, reduce barriers to trade and investment, and support existing and new investments by American businesses.”

Commerce’s Economic Data Is a Goldmine for Small Businesses

Blogged By: 
MBDA
Created on June 26, 2013
 

 

Public data is a valuable national asset whose value is multiplied when it is made easily accessible to the public. For example, the public release of weather data from government satellites and ground stations generated an entire economic sector that today includes the Weather Channel, commercial agricultural advisory services, and new insurance options. Similarly, the decision by the U.S. Government to make the Global Positioning System (GPS), once reserved for military use, available for civilian and commercial access, gave rise to GPS-powered innovations ranging from aircraft navigation systems to precision farming to location-based apps, contributing tens of billions of dollars in annual value to the American economy.

The Department of Commerce makes available to small businesses economic data that are important for key business decisions such as where to locate, where to manufacture a product and where to sell that product.

For example, AmFor Electronics, a second-generation, family-owned manufacturer in Portland, Oregon, is the market leader in the manufacturing of alternator and starter testers, which are sold to auto parts stores, auto repair shops, and alternator and starter rebuilders. Using Commerce data like that available in the Assess Costs Everywhere tool, AmFor decided to enter the wire harness sector and chose to locate their manufacturing facility domestically rather than overseas because it provides a shorter turnaround times with fewer defects that ultimately leads to a reduction in costs. These successes have translated into new customers and the hiring of 50 employees.

MBDA’s Business Centers Expand Reach

Blogged By: 
MBDA
Created on June 26, 2013
 

Celebrated since 1963, National Small Business Week recognizes the contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. Entrepreneurship is an integral part of our country’s DNA and increasing numbers of minorities are becoming entrepreneurs. However, starting a business can be challenging in that the majority of small- to medium-sized businesses often lack access and visibility to helpful resources.

Through a national network of nearly 40 business centers and a wide range of domestic and international strategic partners, the Minority Business Development Agency provides minority-owned businesses with technical assistance and access to capital, contract opportunities and new markets to create new jobs and support the economy. Nationwide MBDA Business Centers help provide heightened visibility and access to valuable opportunities for minority-owned firms through partnerships with multi-national corporations, industry coalitions, and government agencies.

For Kevin Robinson, CEO of RFS Group, LLC, in Indianapolis, IN, hard work and determination helped get his full service janitorial company off the ground. However, taking the business to the next level required some help. Robinson contacted the MBDA Business Center in Indianapolis for direction. The Center provided Robinson with procurement assistance and business counseling. As a result, RFS secured several contracts valued at $16,700, and it was able to hire eight additional employees. Within six months of partnering with the Center, RFS saw its revenues increase by 10 percent.

Affordable Care Act: Three Things Businesses Should Know

Blogged By: 
David A. Hinson, National Director
Created on June 14, 2013
 

David Hinson, National Director Earlier this month I was invited to give the commencement address for the 2013 graduates of the New York City College of Technology (CUNY). I began my remarks with a true story of how I prepared for my speech by going skydiving. I jumped out of a perfectly good airline at an altitude of 13,500 feet in an attempt to clear my head and gain perspective of the words of wisdom that I wanted to impart.  We all laughed when I confessed that as soon as I stood in the doorway of the plane, having heard the instructor yell “GO – GO – GO”, preparing for the commencement address was not my first thought . . . and honestly, not the second or third.

However, when I landed safely and reflected on all of the emotions that I felt at “jump altitude” – my extreme experience not only informed my commencement address but also made me ponder the many interactions I have had over the years with MBDA clients that share their excitement and anxiety about their future direction and growth.

Although the topics have varied, in recent months, the dialogue has centered on the Affordable Care Act and what it means for minority businesses. While many business owners have acknowledged that an improved health care system will make a huge difference in the lives of millions of Americans, there is still uncertainty of how the provisions will impact their business operations.

Increasing Participation of Minority and Women-owned Business

Blogged By: 
Leslie Grant and Deepak Shenoy, MBDA Interns
Created on June 14, 2013
 

On Wednesday, May 8, 2013, Houston City Council approved Mayor Annise Parker’s recommended enhancements to the city’s 30-year-old goal-oriented Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) contracting program. This action reinstated women-owned businesses into the program, and increased the participation of Minority and Women-owned business from 22 percent to 34 percent in the citywide construction goal. 

Under these enhancements, the Office of Business Opportunity of Houston has implemented certain procedures to ensure the program’s effectiveness, including: reviewing the MWSBE Program every five years; expanding the geographic boundaries to include San Jacinto and Austin Counties; revising the Good Faith Efforts Policy requiring contractors to submit their plans for meeting the good faith efforts at the time of bid submission; implementing a three-year MWSBE certification; and standardizing department accountability for monitoring of good faith efforts.

In 2009, a lawsuit against the MWBE program resulted in the removal and replacement of women-owned businesses with Small Business Enterprises. However, in April 2012, a comprehensive construction industry disparity study indicated a need for a significant increase in citywide MWBE participation to reach construction goal.

Did you know...

MBDA Minority Business Centers helped clients obtain capital totaling $4.76 billion during the last 5 fiscal years.
Graph for Dollar Value of Capital

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