U.S. Minority-Owned Enterprises a Centerpiece in the U.S. Economic Recovery

September 22, 2021

Nyamusi Igambi directs our U.S. Commercial Service’s Southern Network.

It goes without saying: the past 18 months have been truly transformative for the way we live and work. As an agency that tracks trade, we have observed COVID-19’s disruptions along every link in the business supply chain. We’ve also seen another important trend emerge from consumers writ large: increased support for small and medium minority-owned enterprises, including African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic-American, and Native American owned businesses, as well as small and medium size firms run by women, veterans, and the LGBTQI+ community.

As the nation embarks on a historic economic recovery, the International Trade Administration (ITA) is uniquely positioned to help bolster the success of underserved communities by helping these businesses expand their global reach through exports. It’s a fact that 95% of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States, which means the potential is high for U.S. companies to increase sales and create jobs by tapping into international markets. But the reality is that businesses in underserved communities often lack awareness of export opportunities or access to financing or trade resources. However, many minority-owned businesses actually have a competitive advantage due to cultural ties and oftentimes multilingual skills.

To help these businesses succeed at home and overseas, ITA recently launched the Global Diversity Export Initiative to better connect businesses with ITA trade experts in more than 100 U.S. cities and 75 international markets. This year alone, we have organized or participated in nearly 200 trade events to reach these important audiences, including the National Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week Conference this week. This annual event, hosted by the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), attracts thousands of American and international attendees. We have several educational panels for businesses to learn about the benefits of exporting, and they can request virtual meetings to work directly with an international trade specialist to assess their export readiness. 

If you run a minority-owned enterprise that has never exported or are looking to expand your exports to new markets, here are 3 easy steps to help you get started:

1) Measure Your Export Readiness: On our Trade.gov website, if you are a new, expanding, or experienced exporter, you can assess your company’s readiness to enter your first international market, expand into additional markets, or take on more challenging high-growth markets with an online questionnaire. The assessment takes you through a series of questions. For example, does your company have a product or service that has successfully sold in the domestic market? A product or service’s success in the domestic market is a good indicator of its potential for export success. Company executives and entrepreneurs should ask themselves if they are willing and able to dedicate time and resources to the process. Another question it asks is does your company have an export business plan with defined goals and strategies? Experienced exporters should consider if their company has sufficient production capacity that can be committed to the export market. ITA is here to assist with you as you pursue your export strategy. 

2) Conduct Market Research and Analysis: Next, ITA provides trade data, research, and analysis covering industries and markets around the world in our online Research Center. Reports are written by our trade and industry experts, as well as our commercial diplomats in U.S. embassies and consulates overseas. Our Country Commercial Guides provide a broad overview of market opportunities and best prospects. Companies can also receive real-time market insights or request customized market research. We assist companies by providing information about the international regulatory and customs environments. We also help companies by supporting their international marketing efforts. Check out the Market Diversification Tool to identify potential new export markets using your current trade patterns.

3) Connect with ITA: ITA staff are here to help companies navigate the export process. Every year, we offer numerous in-person and virtual events to help companies access global markets and international prospects through virtual webinars and matchmaking, as well as trade shows and trade missions. U.S. firms can also utilize our virtual matchmaking tools such as our International Partner Search, as well as conduct background checks on prospective partners thorough the International Company Profile. Learn more about a full suite of services online.

As the nation recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact, we must promote equitable growth and eliminate social and economic structural barriers to opportunity wherever they exist. The global affinity for Made in USA products and services is second to none, and ITA remains absolutely committed to helping accelerate an inclusive economic recovery by helping minority-owned companies build back better through exports.

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