Posted at 6:47 AM
Created on November 4, 2015
During my time in the booth at the 2015 Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week celebration, a colleague excitedly announced that a minority business owner was interested in signing an engagement contract with one of our Business Centers. I quickly arranged the table so that Kareem Cook, COO and Chief Marketing Officer for Naturade and the Miami Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Business Center Consultant, Jorge Iglesias could meet because I saw the enthusiasm on both of their faces. I joined the meeting to learn more about the opportunity that the client was bringing to our MBDA Business Center and how we could be of service.
After we moved through the introductions, I learned that Cook purchased his business one year ago and had already doubled revenue from $12 million to $24 million within a 12 month period. I was happy to hear more about the history of Naturade and how Kareem was able to grow his business in such a short time. Cook attributes marketing strategy, expanding distribution, and product development as factors for his success. Cook also shared some of the challenges that he has had trying to take the product to Africa. One of the difficulties was accessing the market. His company made several efforts to use his relationships to enter Swaziland, but it was difficult to actualize a serious commitment with the Swazi health department.
I assured Cook that this was precisely the area where MBDA would be most helpful. We are able to open doors of opportunity in foreign markets and help our clients secure the kind of deals that make sense given their expertise. In an effort to provide solutions to the client, we discussed the option to present his product to several of our federal partners. Through collaboration with the MBDA Business Center, we will also work with Cook and Naturade to gain access to other markets in the U.S. and Africa. As a Business Development Specialist with expertise in Africa and with the resources of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Doing Business in Africa (DBIA) Campaign, I am particularly interested to see Naturade succeed in the U.S. and beyond.