Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Guest Blogger Series: Alejandra Castillo on “Minority Business Development”

In August, the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) will host the 28th Annual Minority Enterprise Development Conference from August 23-27 at the Omni-Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC.  The conference theme is “Strategies for growth and competitiveness in the global economy.”

The minority business community has a competitive advantage in the global market – due in large part to language capabilities, cultural compatibility, ancestral ties and business agility.  Minority-owned firms are twice as likely to export, compared to non-minority-owned firms. There is an enormous amount of potential in international markets.  Currently, less than 1 percent of America’s 30 million companies export, and of those that do export 58 percent export to only one country.

The Obama Administration announced the National Export Initiative which calls on American businesses to double exports over the next five years.  It’s for this reason, along with the potential of significant business growth and job creation, that is focused on assisting minority-owned firms grow their businesses, not just domestically, but globally.

Exports have become an increasingly important part of the U.S. economy – job growth has become increasingly dependent on foreign trade.  According to estimates, every $180,000 worth of exports equals one U.S. job – and creating more jobs is a central goal for the Obama Administration.  Last year, exports accounted for roughly 13 percent of the U.S. GDP – about three times as much as 50 years ago.  With increased use of the Internet, improved transportation and enhanced trade and investment rules that have been simplified to make it easier for businesses to export, there has never been a better time to grow globally than right now. In 2008, U.S. exports generated about $2 trillion in revenues and exports supported approximately 6 million U.S. jobs.

To assist minority-owned firms in breaking into global markets, MBDA is working on a series of programs that will promote minority-owned firms globally.  Some of which you will hear about at the MED Week Conference.

MBDA, through its network of more than 45 minority business development centers across the country, is ready to help you create a global strategy for your business growth.  More than 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the United States and one of the easiest ways to grow American minority-owned businesses and create new jobs is to sell products and services to people outside the U.S. borders.

At MBDA, our role is to help minority-owned firms reach these new markets and connect businesses with government resources specifically to help grow and create jobs.  MBDA recommends businesses interested in growing through exports take a good look at their business models and then contact us.  We will make sure you are ready for the commitment necessary for doing business internationally.

We encourage you to start your path towards exporting by attending this year’s MED Week Conference.  During the week, you will have the opportunity to hear from government leaders about the programs and resources that the government provides to help businesses export.  You will meet with Embassy leaders from Asia, Africa and Latin America.  And most important, you will have the opportunity to network and learn from other business owners.  To register, please visit www.medweek.gov.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Ms. Alejandra Castillo is the National Deputy Director of the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA).  Prior to her appointment with MBDA, Ms. Castillo served as Special Advisor to the Under Secretary for the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) where she was responsible for business outreach and development of policy initiatives geared at trade promotion and enforcement of U.S. trade laws.

Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Ms. Castillo served as the Interim Executive Director of the Hispanic National Bar Association headquartered in Washington D.C.  Ms. Castillo served in the Clinton Administration as a Senior Policy Analyst to the Deputy Director at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).

A native of New York, Ms. Castillo holds a Bachelor Degree of Arts from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in economics and political science. Ms. Castillo holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin and has a Juris Doctorate degree from American University (AU)-Washington College of Law.