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Blog Category: International Trade Administration

Paving the Way for a New Legion of Entrepreneurs and Innovators

Paving the Way for a New Legion of Entrepreneurs and Innovators

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews last week spoke at the National Asian Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ACE) Conference and reaffirmed the Administration’s commitment to strengthening AAPI businesses in the U.S. and around the globe. He showcased the Department’s wide array of programs available to help the AAPI community successfully grow their businesses and knock down barriers in the process.  

With more than two million thriving AAPI businesses, the Commerce Department is focused on providing the necessary tools to help AAPI entrepreneurs stay viable and competitive in the global marketplace through partnering with the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), International Trade Administration (ITA), Economic Development Administration (EDA), Census Bureau, and the SelectUSA program just to name a few.

During his remarks, Deputy Secretary Andrews emphasized the important role the Department’s agencies play in assisting AAPI entrepreneurs and innovators in everything from providing business counseling and other federal government resources to protecting intellectual property rights more expediently to disseminating data that spawn new businesses and promote better decision-making in existing businesses. Today, there are more than 1.5 million AAPI-owned firms that generate more than $500 billion in revenue. They employ more than 50 percent of all workers in minority firms nationwide.

MBDA National Director Alejandra Castillo also spoke to the chamber about the importance of leveraging strategic partnerships and export opportunities. MBDA currently has 44 business centers designed to assist businesses gain more access to contracts, working capital and global markets. They also opened the first ever MBDA Federal Procurement Center designed solely to help minority-owned firms with annual revenues of more than $1 million, such as AAPI businesses, overcome some of the challenges it has faced in the past when accessing federal programs.

Through a myriad of services, MBDA has also helped AAPI entrepreneurs successfully gain contracts and enter into new markets around the world, including Vietnam, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). 

ITA is also helping small- and medium sized businesses sell their products and services around the world, with more than 100 Export Assistance Centers across the U.S. that offer hands on marketing and trade and finance support.

The Commerce Department remains steadfast in its efforts to continue helping AAPI businesses grow. 

U.S.-Africa Business Success Stories: A Kodak Moment: How the Department of Commerce Brokered a Deal between Eastman Kodak and an Egyptian Bank

Ed. Note: This post is part of the U.S.-Africa Business Success Stories series highlighting the work of the Department of Commerce to strengthen the economic relationship between U.S. and African businesses. This series will lead up to the U.S. Africa Business Forum on August 5th, which will convene African heads of state and government to meet with President Obama, Secretary Pritzker, and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg to discuss trade and investment opportunities for African heads of government and American business leaders.

When the Department of Commerce helped Eastman Kodak broker an exporting deal with one of Egypt’s largest state-owned banks, it was a true Kodak moment. American businesses like Kodak are becoming increasingly engaged in exporting to Africa, and the reasons why are clear:

  • Africa has made great strides towards achieving sustainable economic growth and widespread poverty alleviation.
  • Gross domestic product (GDP) in Africa is expected to rise 6 percent per year over the next decade.
  • Africa is set to have a larger workforce than India or China by the year 2040.
  • According to the World Bank, almost half of Africa’s countries have attained middle-income status.

Africa’s potential as the world’s next major economic story is why businesses in the United States, like Kodak, want to offer their products, services, and expertise to help unlock even more of Africa’s potential – and the Obama Administration and Department of Commerce are committed to helping these exporting businesses each step of the way.

Kodak, the company best known for pioneering photographic film products, has been an active client of the nearby Rochester U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC) for decades. This long-standing relationship connected Kodak with one of the largest state-owned banks in Egypt, Banque Misr. When the bank was about to place an order to purchase Kodak Scanners, Banque Misr was told that Kodak had encountered a financial problem not familiar to many outside the U.S.: Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

To better understand Kodak’s financial situation, Banque Misr contacted the U.S. Commercial Service in Egypt, which then contacted the Rochester USEAC. The Rochester USEAC  was able to confirm that Kodak was still operational and headquartered in Rochester. With the help of Tim McCall, a trade specialist in Rochester, and the U.S. Commercial Service, the bank received the proper paperwork and placed an order to Kodak which amounted to roughly $185,000 in export sales.

The Obama Administration and the Department of Commerce believe that Kodak’s and Banque Misr’s example can encourage other U.S. companies to do business in Africa. That is why, last year, President Obama announced the launch of Trade Africa, a partnership between the United States and East African Community (EAC) – Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. Trade Africa aims to increase exports from the EAC to the U.S. by 40 percent, reduce the average time needed to import or export a container from African ports by 15 percent, and decrease by 30 percent the average time a truck takes to transit certain borders, making it easier for businesses on both side of the Atlantic to trade. 

Businesses interested in learning more about exporting should contact their local U.S. Export Assistance Center.

Commerce Department Continues Focus on Expanding Markets for U.S. Exports

Secretary Gary Locke will join President Obama in India this week, where they will work to deepen bilateral economic cooperation between the two countries on a regional and global level. Continuing to expand bilateral economic ties with India is an important step toward achieving the goals of the president’s National Export Initiative, which aims to double U.S. exports within the next five years in support of several million U.S. jobs.

While in Mumbai, Locke will participate in the U.S.-India Business and Entrepreneurship Summit. He will then travel to New Delhi, where he will give a keynote address at a Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the American Chamber of Commerce event.  In 2009, U.S. trade with India totaled $37.6 billion, and trade this year has already reached $32.4 billion through August.

Watch this video to hear from small business owners about their experiences partnering with the Department of Commerce.