Posted at 8:00 AM
Good morning! On behalf of President Barack Obama and Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, I want to thank you for allowing me to join you at the first Annual Latina Leadership Summit.
Secretary Locke will join you tomorrow, but today I have the honor of being with you and expressing my deep, deep pride in being a part of the Administration that nominated and confirmed the first Latina Supreme Court Justice of the United States, Judge Sonia Sotomeyor.
I don’t know about you, but I felt a tremendous sense of joy seeing Judge Sotomeyor take the oath of office. Learning about her personal story reminded me of the many Latinas that I have had the pleasure to meet in my travels: talented, capable and motivated women who came from humble beginnings but by force of will and vision of greatness pushed themselves to the highest levels of politics and business.
Many of these amazing Latinas work in the Obama administration and several are on my staff.
Judge Sotomeyor’s achievements also reminded me of the rich history of Latinas in America.
Latinas such as Dolores Huerta - Ms. Huerta was co-founder of the United Farm Workers Union with Cesar Chavez. She is best known for successfully negotiating the very first collective bargaining agreement on behalf of workers within agricultural enterprises, which helped tens of thousands of American families’ transition from a level of poverty into the middle class – she clearly understood the importance of wealth creation.
Another extraordinary woman that comes to mind is Aida Alverez, the first Hispanic and Puerto Rican head of the Small Business Administration and the first to hold a cabinet level position. Her success has been an inspiration to hundreds of thousands of young Latinas who now say, “YES I CAN” when it comes to achieving their dreams.
Still another amazing Latina is the Founder and Editor of Latina Style Magazine, the late Anna Marie Arias. Ms. Arias recognized that style, charm, beauty and a bit of spice are synonymous with the word LATINA, and she used this recognition to fill a niche in the magazine industry with a powerful product that to this day profiles and celebrates the cultural and professional achievements of Latina’s throughout the nation.
But to me, the best thing about Judge Sotomeyor’s nomination is that it sets a standard of greatness for which all of us must embrace. As business owners, this greatness means being fully committed to taking your business to the next level.
At MBDA, the next level means first determining if you are going to have a lifestyle business -better known as a “JOB”- or a business that is going to create substantial wealth for your family and your community. Second, determining how you are going to double your company revenue in the next 3 to 5 years. Third, determining how you are going to modify your growth models, moving away from traditional organic growth models and embracing the growth models of the future: Growth through merger, growth through acquisition, growth through joint venture and growth through strategic partnership.
Then, determining how you are going to participate in the growth industries of the future – Clean Energy – Green Technology – Healthcare IT. And finally, determining how you are going to create a global component to your business.
These things are important because despite the fact that Latina-owned businesses are the fasted growing business segment in the United States and despite the fact that 1 in 10 women-owned businesses are owned and operated by Latinas, the average annual gross revenue for Latina businesses is only $65,216. A $65,000 annual revenue streams is wholly insufficient to create a sustainable economic entity. WE MUST DO BETTER!
Latina business must get bigger, faster and MBDA is here to help. In fact, we have a solid track record of helping Latina businesses achieve scale. One example is GC Micro Corporation – a Latina-owned business located in northern California. GC Micro is a leading supplier of computing equipment and services to government agencies, the aerospace industry and Fortune 1000 companies. MBDA’s Northern California Minority Business Center provided technical assistance, marketing assistance and procurement advice. With our assistance, GC Micro now generates revenues north of $30 million annually.
Another amazing company that MBDA worked with is Pinnacle Technical Resources located in Dallas, Texas. This Latina-owned firm provides IT solutions to leading companies in the telecommunications, financial services, and health care and consumer products industries. With the assistance of our Dallas Minority Business Center which provided extensive marketing support and relationship access, Pinnacle has grown their revenues to north of $50 million dollars annually. In fact, Pinnacle Chairwoman and CEO Nina Vaca received MBDA’s National Director’s Pioneer Award in 2008.
These are just a couple of the many Latina companies that have benefited from a relationship with our 46 minority business centers across the nation. MBDA is singularly committed to helping the minority business community grow and flourish. In this respect let me take a moment to point out a few areas where we can be of assistance to you.
The President is committed to seeing minority-owned businesses obtain their fair share of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. MBDA has been charged with working with minority-owned businesses obtain access to contracts on the state and local level. Each of you can and should compete for these dollars.
MBDA continues to build relationships with the nations largest corporations to promote stronger, more diversified mentoring partnerships. I encourage you to work with our business development specialists to build stronger relationships.
Finally, MBDA has executed over $2 billion dollars in contracts and financings for our clients in 2008 and so far this year we have executed over $1.9 billion dollars in contracts and financings. If you have a viable business model, we encourage you to engage us to help you gain the contracts and financial packages you need to grow.
But there is a bigger picture.
This picture is about more than just financial milestones and material success.
For woven into the mosaic called America and often invisible to the naked eye, is the powerful leadership capability that Latina’s bring to this nation.
My mother always said that with success comes responsibility and no doubt you have been tremendously successful. Now is the time for Latinas to be a stronger and more potent voice in the conversation of the future of America.
I believe that Latinas must take a more prominent role in the national political discourse – in short, we need Latina Senators and Latina governors; more Latina members of Congress; more Latina members of state legislatures; and maybe, after this Administration, a Latina president of the United States.
The powerful experience of Latinas in America and the views that are born from these experiences must be more fully represented in the body politic – NOW IS THE TIME.
Latinas must actively participate in institutionalizing across the nation those factors that lead to success:
- Commitment to higher education;
- Commitment to personal discipline and long-term view;
- Commitment to working together as a community for the greater good;
- And commitment to the success of the next generation.
These values represent the best traditions of America, but in some quarters they seem to have gotten lost in the blur of daily living and the pressure to make ends meet. Who better to remind the nation of what it takes to achieve greatness than the Latina business community.
NOW is the time!
Finally the voice of the Latina business community must be heard in the global policies of the United States, not just related to Latin America and the Caribbean, but around the world.
While Latina businesses use ancestral ties, language capabilities, cultural compatibility and business agility to reach new markets, you must also take a leadership role in moving this nation away from the comfort of racial isolation and towards the power and opportunity of multi-culturalism – NOW IS THE TIME!
These things are within your power and I believe represent the hope embodied in the confirmation of Judge Sotomayor. Each and every one of you has a voice and it is during this Administration, during this unique period in history that your voices must be heard in every corner of this nation.
President Obama said recently:
One voice can change a room….
And if it can change a room, it can change a city….
And if it can change a city, it can change a state….
And if it can change a state, it can change a nation….
And if it can change a nation, it can change the world…
YOUR voice can change the world.
The nation needs to hear your voice.