August 3, 2022
Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, U.S. Department of Commerce
Reta Jo Lewis
President and Chair of the Board of Directors, Export-Import Bank of the U.S.
CEO, Freedom Sourcing
President, Bilmor with Advertising Specialties, Inc.
Senior Vice President of Strategic Alliances and Outreach, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Vice President, Americas, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Former Vice President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
According to the Minority Business Development Agency, 95% of the world’s customers are outside the United States. Minority-owned businesses can tap into the global market for more expansive opportunities and a wider reach. To help support the growth of Black and other minority-owned businesses, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Equality of Opportunity Initiative is working to advance public and private sector solutions.
At the Equality of Opportunity in Action: Global Strategies for Minority-Owned Businesses event, private and public sector professionals explored opportunities and resources for minority-owned businesses in the global market.
Businesses Must Work With the Public Sector To Build a Prosperous and Inclusive Economy
According to The Honorable Marisa Lago, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade for the U.S. Department of Commerce, the International Trade Administration aims to “build a more prosperous and inclusive economy.”
“We do [this] by strengthening the competitiveness of U.S. businesses and their workers, by promoting trade and investment to the 95% of customers that are outside of our borders, and also by ensuring fair trade practices,” she said.
She explained the International Trade Administration has three major branches: enforcement and compliance; industry and analysis; and global markets.
“The International Trade Administration might be best known for its global markets division,” Lago said. “This is where the foreign and the U.S. commercial service is housed. These are the folks who are on site in over 100 U.S. cities and over 70 locations around the globe, understanding the businesses that are there, understanding the export environment, and serving as the advocate for U.S. exporters.”
Minority-Owned Businesses Should Partner To Discuss Opportunities and Challenges
The Honorable Reta Jo Lewis, President and Chair of the Board of Directors for Export-Import Bank of the U.S, stressed the importance of public sectors partnering with minority- and women-owned small businesses to understand how public sectors can support their growth.
“As we've looked at our data, businesses that are exporting … have a very exceptional chance of succeeding in a world where they can … diversify their streams of revenue from different markets,” Lewis said. “We know that those are the types of businesses that are more resilient [and] more nimble, and they can actually position themselves for success.”
“It really is a responsibility that we have to be able to talk with our American … businesses so that we can position them for success [and] have them understand what this government agency … can do for them,” she continued.
Additionally, it’s just as important for owners of such businesses to connect with each other and discuss success stories and roadblocks they have faced along the way.
“It's [not] always all about the opportunities,” she said. “They really have to understand the challenges, and the challenge has always been, of course, financing.”
Companies Should Open Additional Offices Where Their Customers Reside
Arturo Guerrero, CEO of Freedom Sourcing, noted he opened a sales office for his company just north of Mexico City so he could appeal to customers across the border.
“It gave me eyes on the ground [and] it also showed my customers that I was serious [about the] company, and I was not just looking for opportunities to do a quick sale,” he said. “I was there for the long haul.”
“It's been great because there are all kinds of possible leads that go into that office, which I then follow up [on],” Guerrero explained. “That office is in charge of making sure that they're up to date with any legal changes, import changes, [and] anything that might change in Mexico that could be beneficial to the home office so we can take action.”
Additionally, having that office allows Guerrero to send a worker to follow up with issues or concerns in person, which improves the customer experience.
“One of the things that is extremely important is to do your due diligence,” he said. “When you see a potential customer … I like to go see them and do a face-to-face and find out what they're about [and] listen to them.”
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