November 2010 Agency Spotlight – Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)

What is the mission and mandate of the Minority Business Development Agency and how does it work to meet the needs of minority-owned businesses in the United States?

The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is a bureau of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and it is the only federal agency tasked to promote the growth and global competitiveness of the nation’s minority-owned businesses. It helps minority firms across the country to become better equipped to create jobs, impact local economies and compete successfully in domestic and global marketplaces. MBDA’s nationwide network of business centers and strategic partners assist minority entrepreneurs and business owners with consulting services, contract and financing opportunities, bonding and certification services, building business-to-business alliances and executive training. Our fundamental objective is to help more minority-owned firms grow by providing them access to capital, contracts, and new markets.

What are some of your key initiatives for 2011 and 2012?

Minority businesses generated $1 trillion dollars of economic output to the nation and created 5.9 million jobs in 2007. Our goal is to increase that to $3.4 trillion in economic output and 11.8 million new jobs. Key initiatives we are launching focus on increasing minority firms’ adoption of growth strategies that include exports, mergers and acquisitions, expansion into high growth areas such as alternative energy, health care IT and green industries.

How can minority and women-owned businesses learn more about the MBDA and its programs?

We encourage minority and women-owned businesses to visit our web site at and call a MBDA business center or a MBDA regional office. As well, we encourage those who want to take their businesses to the next level to attend a MBDA business event such as our National Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week conference (typically held in the fall of each year) and to subscribe to our e-newsletter. MBDA has a network of business centers who provide minority entrepreneurs one-on-one management and technical consulting, and access to capital sources and contracting opportunities in the United States and abroad. They are staffed by business specialists who have the knowledge and practical experience needed to run successful and profitable businesses. The locations of our centers and offices can be found on our website.

What are the top 3 ways that an MWBE can leverage the resources of the MBDA?

We want to create a new generation of minority businesses grossing $100 million or more. So, to fully leverage the resources of the MBDA, firms need to be of size, scale and capacity. They should have a growth strategy that transcends their city and state and be ready to grow regionally, nationally, and globally. We know that minority firms are twice as likely to export than non-minority owned firms, yet most only export to one country. MBDA is looking for export-ready firms that want to move into the second, third and fourth country. Also, MWBEs that want to look at business expansion into growth areas such as alternative energy, green technology, and healthcare IT are excellent candidates for MBDA’s programs and services.

How can the MBDA partner with an organization like CUP and other nonprofits focused on diversity, inclusion and creating new access to capital for MWBEs?

When MBDA partners with organizations like CUP, the goal is to identify mutually beneficial programs or initiatives that will address a need that the minority business community is confronting or to create new business opportunities for minority-owned firms. Organizations like CUP, and others that are focused on diversity, can serve as champions of minority business development programs in the public and private sector. By emphasizing the substantial contributions that minority-owned firms make to the US economy and the changing demographics in the United States, CUP can influence public policies to focus on the growth and competitiveness of these firms.