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MBDA’s Patricia Hanes Explains How to Expand Opportunities for Small Businesses

Patricia Hanes, regional director, MBDA

According to author James Lowry, August, which is Black Business Month, presents a prime time for American businesses to step up efforts and place supplier diversity at the top of their business strategy, while banishing the idea that it’s simply a corporate citizenship obligation. The co-author of Minority Business Success: Refocusing on the American Dream also points out that by 2045, minorities will become the largest majority based on sheer demographics.

In the same context, minority businesses must be prepared “to deliver the value that American corporations expect — at every level of the supply chain. Right now, they do not,” Lowry emphasizes.

Patricia Hanes says her objective as southeast regional director of the Minority Business Development Agency (MDBA), a department of the U.S. Commerce, is “to help minority businesses grow, build capacity, expand their business operations, create jobs and to bring wealth to the minority community.”

During the 3rd Annual Business Summit in Atlanta, Hanes shares that small businesses, including minority business enterprises, are welcome to benefit from the many services that the MBDA has to offer “if they have been in business at least two years and have about $1-2 million in revenue.”

She continues, offering the exception, “If  they don’t have that but are in a high growth area, like health care, IT or some kind of technology that we think can grow rapidly to reach that, we will work with them. If they don’t, we will refer them to one of our partners: the Small Business Administration (SBA), Economic Development Administration (EDA) or Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) — until they grow their business to meet our requirements to receive services and become a client.”

Hanes advises that even though the MBDA is a U.S.-based federal agency, they service clients who seek to do business outside of the U.S. “We work very closely with companies that are doing global business or are interested in doing global business. What we’ve found in our research is that, typically, minority-owned businesses are three to four times more likely to export than anyone else,” she says. –yvette caslin

The 29th annual Minority Enterprise Development Week Conference, the largest federally sponsored event on minority enterprise development, will be held Sept. 27-30, 2011, at Marriott – Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit