AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY - November 20, 2009
Good evening! On behalf of President Barack Obama and Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, I want to thank you for inviting me here today to participate in tonight’s open house for the GADGET Center during Global Entrepreneurship Week.
I will briefly discuss the importance of entrepreneurship to the US economy and the minority business community. But first, I would like to acknowledge and thank several people who made GADGET possible: Dean Barron Harvey, Dean of the Howard University Business School; Ms. Johnetta Hardy, the Executive Director for the Institute for Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Innovation at Howard; and Mr. A.K. Adams, Program Director of the GADGET Center. I commend them for their vision in developing this center to promote entrepreneurialism.
As a graduate of the Howard University Business School, I can tell you that the development of this center is consistent with the long track record of outstanding leadership that Dean Harvey and his team have brought to the University and School of Business.
I deeply appreciate your work.
Finally, I want to thank Ford Motor Company and the other corporate and philanthropic sponsors, business owners and community leaders who made this center possible.
Entrepreneurs are the heart beat of the American economy and the group that will lead us out of our current economic challenges.
Since 1980, all net new jobs in the United States were created by start-up companies of 5 years in age or less. During a time when our economy has lost more than 8 million jobs, entrepreneurs have created over 3 million new jobs per year.
But beyond jobs, entrepreneurs have been a key source of new technologies, innovative ideas, new forms of efficiency and hope.
These outstanding young men and women who compose our entrepreneurs have been willing to take unprecedented risk, work day after day and night after night against all odds - often scratching out only a meager existence in the early years with the singular belief that greatness and prosperity are just within reach.
It is because of their greater calling, this deep willingness to focus on the “evidence of things not seen” that makes these entrepreneurs deserve our praise.
There should be no doubt in your mind that the President, Vice President, and Secretary of Commerce are committed to the growth and development of entrepreneurs throughout America. The President has spoken extensively about the importance of entrepreneurship. Secretary Locke recently established the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Commerce Department to support the growth of the nation’s entrepreneurs. The new Office, which will answer directly to the Secretary, will be geared toward the first step in the business cycle: moving an idea from someone’s imagination, or from a research lab, into a business plan.
And for the last 40 years, the Minority Business Development Agency, an agency within the Department of Commerce has been the only federal agency specifically tasked to support the growth and competitiveness of minority owned firms. MBDA has 46 centers nationwide that work with minority business of all sizes with a focus on those that generate $1 million or more in gross revenue and those in the new frontier industries – alternative energy, green technology and healthcare IT.
Two of those Centers are here within the metro Washington, DC area – one on New York Avenue and one in Falls Church, VA.
I invite you to visit one of our Centers as well and to get involved with MBDA. Because for minority entrepreneurs to be sustain success they have to grow their businesses bigger and they have to grow bigger faster.
Today, the average Asian American Business has gross revenues of approximately $296,000. The average Hispanic business has gross revenues of $141,000, while the average African American Business has average gross revenues of a mere $74,000. In all cases - these businesses are too small. Thus, the minority entrepreneur of today and tomorrow must change.
To get bigger faster, you must consider the global markets for your products and services as readily as you consider domestic markets. Ninety-five percent of all consumers live outside the United States, so if you are only considering the domestic markets you are only serving to limit your opportunity.
The most cost efficient and time efficient way to globalize your business is to engage our International Trade Administration in the Commerce Department. ITA provides a range of services to help you prepare to export and the Minority Business Development Agency is your conduit to ITA.
You must reconsider your overall business plans and growth strategies, moving away from organic growth models of the past and embrace the growth models of the future: growth through merger, growth through acquisition, growth through joint venture and growth through strategic partnership.
These may seem like big leaps during an extremely challenging period in the capital markets, but there are a variety of means to financing growth for your company.
In fact, opportunities for growth may entail you to increase your savings so that you have greater equity in your business and move away from a sole ownership psychology to embrace a joint ownership or strategic partnership psychology.
Financing options may mean finding angel investors or private equity. While many businesses seeking services here at GADGET are start-ups or small businesses, as you think about your business plans and viability of your businesses, I am here to ask you to think bigger.
I’m asking you to embrace the idea that one store, one restaurant, or one business providing professional services could today be serving clients here on Georgia Avenue, but tomorrow could be serving clients in the Caribbean or Africa or Latin America.
It’s not out of reach; it just requires strategic thought, a little creativity and a lot of commitment and passion.
The key is not to limit yourself by traditional means of business growth and to think about the impact you have not just on your local economy but on the American economy and the larger global economy.
MBDA Public Affairs