Remarks by MBDA National Director David Hinson at the Mayor’s Commission on Africa & the Caribbean Immigrant Affairs Business and Trade Committee

as prepared for delivery

David Hinson
Washington, DC
Thursday, January 24, 2013

Good Afternoon

Thank you for the kind introduction.

When the Minority Business Development Agency was established over 40 years ago, its mandate was to build the wealth and capacity of minority owned firms, in support of U.S. job growth. As we just witnessed the second inauguration of our first African-American president, Barack Obama, the state of U.S. minority business enterprises (MBEs) has greatly improved, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

But while there is still more work, under the Obama Administration, there is increasing evidence the American economy is moving forward again following the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Minority-owned businesses have a critical role to play in maintaining the momentum. MBDA has a 40 year history of promoting the growth and competitiveness of large, medium and small minority-owned enterprises (MBEs).  

Nationwide there are more than 5.8 million minority-owned businesses that contribute over $1 trillion to the U.S. economy, employ six million Americans, and create ten million more jobs through their economic activity. It is our goal at MBDA to ensure their continued success in strengthening the economy and creating the jobs Americans need. But more than that, we are also focused on increasing the size, scale and capacity of minority business enterprises so that we can create a new generation of minority-owned firms with annual revenues of $100 million, or more.

In his State of the Union address last year, President Obama laid out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last – an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, and improved skills for American workers. An economy where everyone has a fair chance, does their fair share, and plays by the same rules. It is a message that has deep resonance for the minority business community.  Especially when it is backed up by actions that help minority-owned businesses grow and prosper.

The President has called on all of us to strengthen public-private relationships so that U.S. businesses have every opportunity and tools to succeed. MBDA has taken that call to heart and led the way through our network of MBDA Business Centers. Since the beginning of President Obama’s first term:

  • MBDA’s Annual Performance Report shows that, as a result of working with our Agency over the last three years, minority business enterprises have attracted over $11 billion in contracts and capital and created 16,300 new jobs.

  • And our MBDA Business Centers have helped clients secure contracts and capital totaling $10.8 billion.

  • Last year alone, MBDA assisted minority-owned firms in securing nearly $4 billion in financing opportunities and contracts while creating more than 5800 new jobs. It was our third record-breaking year in a row and that would not have been possible without support of our network of funded business centers across the United States.

  • Additionally, MBDA is taking steps to help firms expand their presence in a number of different economic sectors. In 2012, we launched an MBDA Business Center in Washington, DC that is focused exclusively on federal contracting.

The center was established as part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to ensuring that all U.S. businesses share in the jobs and opportunities created by federal government activities. It is MBDA’s first Business Center to focus solely on federal contracting. And it’s a great example of what we’re doing to strengthen public-private relationships.

With the federal government as the world’s largest purchaser of goods and services totaling nearly $600 billion each year…  And with nearly six million minority-owned firms that are striving to grow… It would seem like a perfect match.

But, trying to navigate the federal government’s current procurement process can often be too daunting for many small and minority-owned businesses to tackle on their own. Through the Federal Business Procurement Center, MBDA will increase the probability of success for minority-owned firms by offering specialized assistance in both identifying and accessing federal procurement opportunities, as well as guidance on how to excel in federal contracts, including prime and sub contracts

It’s a win – win proposition.

Minority businesses will have an outstanding opportunity to gain access to the federal government contracting arena, while at the same time, government will benefit from the untapped potential of the minority business community. The Administration has also identified boosting exports as critical to stimulating our country’s economic growth and job creation.

Based on the President’s vision, the Commerce Department has laid out one simple imperative for all the agencies and that is: To help American businesses build it here and sell it everywhere. With 95 percent of the world’s population living outside the United States, the value of tapping into international markets cannot be overstated.

This is another area where minority-owned businesses play a leadership role. Because of shared languages, cultural affinities, and connections in other countries, minority-owned businesses are natural exporters.

Given MBDA’s longstanding relationship with MBEs, the Agency is uniquely positioned to engage with Diaspora communities throughout the United States, and to help leverage their cultural and ancestral ties to key foreign markets to create greater access for U.S. products and services.

Their global reach spans 41 countries on six continents.

In 2010, President Obama launched the National Export Initiative (NEI) to help American businesses sell their goods and services abroad and to ensure fair and open export markets for American businesses. The goal, shared by MBDA, was to double U.S. exports and support millions of additional jobs.

MBDA recognizes that MBEs play a central role in the success of the National Export Initiative, given minority owned firms are twice as likely to export, compared to non-minority owned firms.

To that end, MBDA has realigned its organizational structure so that its global efforts are more strategically integrated into the Agency’s core mission. This includes the inventory and support of existing MBDA global activities, training and education, and enhanced utilization of strategic partnerships/outreach.

In support of the NEI, MBDA has been working collaboratively with the International Trade Administration, Export-Import Bank and other trade-related entities to expand global business opportunities for U.S. minority-owned firms.

And to strengthen our efforts, MBDA is developing a Global Business Unit within our Agency to match global business opportunities with export-ready, minority-owned firms. The latest figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce show that in 2011, jobs supported by exports increased to 9.7 million, up 1.2 million since 2009.

And, for the first time in U.S. history, annual exports of goods and services exceeded $2 trillion. In June 2012, President Obama announced a new U.S. strategy focused on Africa.  One portion of that strategy is The Doing Business in Africa (DBIA) Campaign.

The DBIA campaign will promote economic growth, trade and investment in Africa and is aimed at empowering more American entrepreneurs and business owners like you to enter or expand their presence in these fast-growing markets. Engagement of the African Diaspora community in the United States will be one important key to the success of the DBIA Campaign.

The United States is home to the second largest African Diaspora (only after Brazil) and there were 3.5 million self-identified members of the African Diaspora residing in the United States in 2009 (latest stats available from 2011 Migration Institute survey).

On November 26-30, 2012, the Acting Secretary of Commerce, Dr. Rebecca Blank visited South Africa and Kenya to launch the DBIA Campaign. The first visit to the Region by a sitting U.S. Secretary of Commerce in a decade. Dr. Blank met with a number of private industry and government leaders during her trip, where she highlighted the Administration’s efforts to deepen trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa, and to advance U.S. efforts to promote regional integration with the East African Community.

Sub-Saharan Africa is home to six of the 10 fastest-growing markets in the world. Economic growth in this Region is predicted to be strong – between 5 and 6 percent – in coming years. One of our efforts is to make sure you are fully aware of the many tools available to you through the Department of Commerce to help you access these markets.  Today’s program is just one example.

We also plan to partner with economic development leaders at the state and regional level to make sure they get the training they need to help you as well.

We are developing a series of Africa Global Business Summits in 2013 – where we will bring Ambassadors and our top commercial service officers from Sub-Saharan Africa back to the U.S. to meet with you and share the best strategies and tips to help you successfully enter those markets.

And – perhaps most importantly – we plan to foster more person-to-person relationships through activities like trade missions – which as you all know are the key to getting a deal done. I’d like to briefly mention another initiative aimed at promoting U.S. economic growth – SelectUSA.

Created by Executive Order of President Obama and located within the Department of Commerce, SelectUSA is  the first-ever federal initiative to help attract, retain, and expand foreign business investments in the United States.

In 2010, foreign-owned companies operating in the United States supported approximately 5.3 million jobs. This initiative hopes to encourage even more companies to build new facilities in the U.S. and hire even more American workers. MBDA is a partner in this initiative. By linking foreign investors and firms with U.S. minority-owned businesses, MBDA will help create greater opportunities in this arena for minority-owned enterprises.

We are here to serve as a catalyst in helping you realize the full potential of your business. We’re here to work with you in creating that new generation of minority-owned firms with annual revenues of $100 million, or more. This is a very exciting time for the minority business community.

I look forward to working with all of you in constructing an economy that’s strong and stable for the long term, an economy that’s “built to last.”

Thank you.