MBDA National Director David Hinson
Keynote Speech at Hannover Messe International Trade Show
Good afternoon. Thank you for that kind introduction. I would like to thank Dr. Wolfram von Fritsch for the invitation to speak before you today. I would also like to thank Marco Seibert and his outstanding team who has gone beyond the call of duty to position Hannover Messe as a “must-attend” global business forum and trade show. And finally, I would like to thank Lawrence Walker from the U.S. embassy in Germany.
Last year I was unable to attend this event due to flight cancelations across Europe and Lawrence graciously stepped in and did an outstanding job at delivering my comments.
To members of the German and French governments.
To U.S. Ambassador Phillip Murphy, Fred Irwin, members of the U.S. Commercial Service, business leaders and distinguished guests.
I am delighted to be here today representing President Barack Obama, Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, and the American people who enjoy a strong relationship with the wonderful people of Germany and the people from the many nations represented here today.
As many of you may recall last year this time a volcanic eruption in Iceland grounded air travel across western and northern Europe affecting the lives of over 7 million residents. Today, we come together in support of the citizens of Japan who have endured the worst earthquake in their history a massive tsunami and now face the traumatic risk of radiation exposure. I ask that you join me right now in giving the citizens of Japan with us here today, a warm round of applause for not giving up in the face of catastrophe.
But despite these events, massive political changes sweeping the Middle East, and a still fragile global economy. The power of entrepreneurism around the world has not diminished. From the research labs of Bangalore to the technology-focused universities of Buenos Aires the drive to pursue ideas and develop products that create efficiency and solve the problems of the world is unabated.
The future of every nation – your nation and mine – lies with the entrepreneurs within our borders who are willing to take on the immense challenges of enhancing global communication or creating a cure for a disease or developing a clean and cost efficient form of energy. Our future lies in the hands of those who are attending this global business forum!
But the question that we must ask ourselves is:
Are we doing enough to unlock the full entrepreneurial potential of people around the world?
Are we leveraging the innovative capabilities of every citizen – particularly those from the minority sub-groups that live within our borders?
And are we maximizing the power of diversity to expand the free flow of goods and services around the world?
I would like to briefly answer these questions from the perspective of the United States.
In the State of the Union address to our citizens President Barack Obama called on every American to deliver our best to win our future by out-educating, out-innovating and out-building our global competitors. However, this is not just an American concept; this is a concept that must be embraced around the world. The call to deliver our best challenges all of us to work together to produce the best for the global marketplace. And in doing so, it is not just America who wins, or Germany who wins – When we create an environment where each nation and each individual within that nation strives to deliver their very best the entire world wins!
One way that America has been successful at delivering its best is by unlocking the innovative capabilities of entrepreneurs from the minority communities within our borders. Minority communities within the United States represent nearly 40 percent of the total U.S. population and have roots from nearly every country in the world. Americans come from places like China and Korea. Our Commerce Secretary – Gary Locke was born in the United States but both his father and grandfather were born in China. Americans come from Mexico and Argentina, Ethiopia and Brazil. Some minority groups are indigenous to America while others are historic descendants of Western Africa. But combined, these groups constitute a powerful force in the U.S. economy.
They account for 5.8 million companies in America and contribute over $1 trillion dollars of economic output to the nation. They provide over 6 million jobs to American citizens and account for an increasing percentage of exports. And from these communities come entrepreneurs that have a history of creating new and exciting innovations. From creating the legs of the lunar module that landed the first man on the moon to creating the electrical motor that made the underground subway possible – minority entrepreneurs in America have been a valuable source of innovation and stability to our economy.
What we do at the Minority Business Development Agency is to help minority-owned businesses grow. Through our 46 business development centers across the nation, we provide technical assistance, access to contract opportunities, access to capital and we help these companies create strategic partnerships around the world. Allow me to give you a few examples:
A Hispanic-American entrepreneur came to MBDA with a dream of building a company that could compete globally. We started working with him in the early stages of his company by providing technical assistance and introductions to key suppliers. Today Group-O, owned by Robert Ontiveros, has over 15,000 employees and is one of the largest Hispanic-owned businesses in North America.
African-American entrepreneur Andre Gist came to MBDA when his company had $10 million in revenue. He was seeking assistance in achieving greater penetration into the global supply chain of U.S. Fortune 500 companies. With our assistance, Andre’s company, Manufacturers Industrial Group or M.I.G. now generates over $300 million dollars in annual revenue providing metal fabrication services to some of our nation’s largest corporations.
Yet another example is Sister Sky, a Native-American-owned company that produces all-natural spa products. Through the support of MBDA export training efforts, Sister Sky is now poised to expand globally. Within every nation there are talented entrepreneurs from minority sub-groups.
Someone from the 3.5 million people of Turkish-descent who call Germany home is talented enough to create the next Group O and expand the German economy. Or someone from the estimated 15 million minorities living in France has the capability to build the next M.I.G. and create thousands of new jobs for French citizens.
And someone from the 123 million ethnic minorities in China has the entrepreneurial spirit to build and manage the next Sister Sky and further expand the sale of Chinese-made products around the world! But in order for the power of these minority populations to be realized, nations must insure that every citizen has an equal opportunity to compete.
Nations must remove all impediments to capital and contracting access so that there is unimpeded opportunity to all who are willing to build a business. Nations have to create environments where owners of the companies in majority populations are motivated to develop strategic partnerships with owners of companies from minority populations. And we must all work together to ensure that every citizen of the world has an equal chance to unleash the innovative ideas that exist within them.
America is one of the most successful nations on earth because we nurture the growth of new ideas and create an environment where minority and non-minority entrepreneurs can flourish. The Minority Business Development Agency is one of several governmental entities that support this effort. So today, we ask you to partner with the MBDA so that we may introduce you to Group O, M.I.G., Sister Sky and the other 5.8 million companies owned and operated by minority entrepreneurs.
Many of these companies are eager to develop cross-border partnerships with you. These companies may be your next strategic partner and entrée into the U.S. market – still the largest consumer market in the world. We ask you to partner with MBDA so that we can bring together the innovative capability of our minority-owned companies and the innovative capability of companies within your borders to expand global trade.
Finally, we ask you to partner with us so that together we can renew a commitment to global innovation and entrepreneurialism – and lay the foundation for a stronger and more vibrant global community.