The Minority Business Development Agency’s annual National Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week conference kicks off next week in Washington, D.C., under the banner, “Strategies for Growth and Competitiveness in the Global Economy.” The overall goal of the event, which will take place August 23 to 27, explains MBDA National Deputy Director Alejandra Castillo, is to provide minority business enterprises (MBEs) with the foundation they need to be successful both at home and abroad.
In accordance with President Obama’s desire to double U.S. exports in five years, two days will be devoted to international trade. Sessions will focus on export basics, such as market research, and resources, opportunities available through trade agreements, global business-to-business networking. Experts will provide tips on how to do business in Africa and representatives from the U.S. Export-Import Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development and other organizations will discuss financing options. A forum titled “Global Supply Chain: Merging Public and Private Sector Efforts for Supply Chain Capacity Building,” will feature executives from 3M, IBM and Johnson & Johnson, who will talk about how small businesses can position themselves on the global supply chains of major corporations.
Minority owned businesses have for years expressed frustration over their inability to successfully penetrate the federal marketplace. Several sessions will focus on just that, including how to succeed in a tough construction market and how to form joint ventures, teaming arrangements and strategic alliances. MBDA Director David Hinson firmly believes that the latter holds enormous potential and is a way for MBEs to easily develop the capacity required to compete for larger contracts they would not be able to handle on their own.
Obama also has tasked 17 federal agencies with examining their contracting processes to determine how they can help minority owned businesses become more successful in the federal marketplace.
“We’ll talk about how you identify federal contracting opportunities, preparing a solid proposal, building the relationships that will [help] you successfully do business with the federal government,” Castillo said. “There are half a trillion dollars of federal contracting opportunities out there and we want to make sure that MBEs in particular are able to participate in that process.”
The conference will close with a business-to-business matchmaking session that Castillo says is “truly unprecedented” because MBEs will have the opportunity to meet with major corporations that can offer more than $20 billion in contracting opportunities.
According to Castillo MBEs should leave with the conference armed with the information and contacts they need to develop new skills, increase capacity and, she hopes, some actual deals. To learn more about MED Week forums and events, click here.