Black History Month: How Commerce Assists Black Entrepreneurs and Innovators

February 25, 2022

Joint blog by the Minority Business Development Agency, the International Trade Administration, and the Bureau of Industry and Security

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Throughout the year, the Department of Commerce provides valuable assistance to inventors and minority-owned business enterprises across the United States, including small and medium-size firms that are important source of revenue and jobs in communities everywhere. Black History Month provides a unique opportunity to celebrate their success and learn about the national and international accomplishments of many Black innovators and entrepreneurs.

An illustration of text that reads "Commerce Celebrates Black History Month: Assisting Black Entrepreneurs and Innovators"

One such Black business owner seeing success today is Gregory Bush, Jr., President and CEO of KFA, Inc., a Chicago-area company that specializes in technology solutions for smart cities, capital construction, facilities management, and business continuity. In 2020, Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) honored KFA with its Minority Innovative Technology Firm of the Year Award for its work with the Chicago Transit Authority. As a result of its successes domestically, KFA was inspired to develop new technology product lines and further their services internationally. Through Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA), KFA has participated in U.S. trade missions to Dubai, Kenya and Ethiopia.

Greg Bush, Jr is not unlike his historical predecessor, Granville Woods. Born just before the Civil War, Granville Woods was a self-taught mechanical and electrical engineer who developed nearly 60 patents during his lifetime. One of his most famous patents, the multiplex telegraph, allowed trains to communicate with train stations by both voice and telegraph. It increased safety on the railways by allowing telegraphs to also be sent from trains on the move. Innovations in the tech sector enable businesses to streamline business practices and advance the ways people communicate across time and space. From Granville to Bush, the work done by these tech innovators in the Black community have paved the way in creating solutions to advance business practices.

If you lead or own a minority-owned business, the Commerce Department is here to provide you the resources and help you achieve success. We have several bureaus to help navigate you each step of the way.

  • The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is the only federal agency solely dedicated to the growth and global competitiveness of minority business enterprises. Minority business enterprises can access a variety of technical assistance, including access to capital, contracts, and markets by contacting a local MBDA Business CenterMBDA Specialty Centers provide industry specific services including advanced manufacturing, business development services to provide opportunities to access global markets and a federal procurement center which specializes in connecting minority businesses to federal procurement officials and prime contractors. MBDA grants also funds projects like Enterprising Women of ColorInner City Innovation Hubs, and programs at minority serving institutions. Learn more about these projects and programs here.
  • Are you interested in expanding internationally? The International Trade Administration (ITA) offers market intelligence, business matching, and trade missions to help you explore new markets. Connect with a trade expert. ITA hosts various trade missions throughout the year that introduce U.S. companies to foreign markets. This year, ITA will host a trade mission geared towards U.S. minority-owned companies interested in expanding in Southwestern Europe (Italy, Portugal and Spain). Interested companies should consider applying for this executive-level Minority-Business Focused Trade Mission, held from May 15-21, 2022. Over the course of the week, participants will connect with U.S. government leaders and commercial teams working in these markets, network with U.S. companies doing business in this region, and take part in customized one-on-one business appointments with pre-screened prospective buyers, agents, distributors, and joint venture partners.
  • Are you interested in getting started with exporting? The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has resources to help you understand the rules and our counselors are standing by to answer questions. BIS also offers seminars that introduce the export control regulations for dual – use and less sensitive military and offers guidance on creating and maintaining export compliance programs. These services are invaluable to a business just getting started in exports.

The U.S. Department of Commerce mission is to promote job creation and economic growth. The resources available from MBDA, ITA, and BIS can be important tools to help minority and black-owned businesses thrive. In the coming year, we hope that these services will help even more Black-owned businesses like KFA start up, succeed, grow, and make a difference in their communities.