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Illustration of business import-export

To encourage minority-owned businesses to look at exporting, several federal government agencies are now offering programs and assistance designed to make the transition easier through financing, training, and technical assistance. These resources can help companies shorten the learning curve for doing business outside of the U.S., and can provide assistance to help businesses make the move successfully.

One of the current programs designed to help minority businesses move into exporting is being launched in 2016 by the U.S. Department of Commerce and is called the Minority Business Development Agency Exporting Project. The project will create four $250,000 grants for organizations to offer technical assistance and business development services to minority-owned businesses seeking to export their products. The primary deliverables for the grant recipients are to generate increased financing, contract opportunities, and greater access to new and global markets for MBEs. The project also will identify, screen, promote, and refer MBEs to other exporting resources.

The ultimate goal of the program is to build the capacity of MBEs to help them prepare for exporting activities and to create and/or retain jobs through facilitating global contracts and trade financing for participating businesses.

This latest initiative by the MBDA adds to other exporting assistance resources available to U.S.-based companies offered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the U.S. Commercial Service. The SBA offers a nationwide network of Small Business Technology Development Centers (SBTDCs). The SBTDCs partner with the US Export-Import Bank and provide international business development specialists who are trained with extensive experience in international business development.

Similarly, the U.S. Commercial Service has a network of export and industry specialists located in more than 100 U.S. cities and over 80 countries worldwide. These trade professionals provide counseling and a variety of products and services to assist small and midsized U.S. businesses export their products and services.

The website Export.gov provides information and assistance to businesses seeking to expand their opportunities by doing business outside of the United States. The site’s home page states: “Small businesses looking to increase sales and profit, reduce dependence on the domestic market and stabilize seasonal fluctuations should consider exporting. Although the process isn’t necessarily easy, the benefits can be huge to a business seeking to grow considering that nearly 96 percent of consumers live outside the U.S., and that two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power is in foreign countries.”

The Export.gov website offers a free digital e-book for companies seeking to learn more about selling goods and services abroad. In addition, The Institute’s Minority Business Development Center and Women’s Business Center can help companies take the first step to exporting abroad. The Institute’s business specialists are trained to navigate the federal programs designed to help minority- and women-owned firms in the international business arena and can help shorten the learning curve to success. For more information, visit www.TheInstituteNC.org.