The National Minority Business Council Inc. opened an entrepreneurship center at its New York City headquarters to help build sustainable relationships between U.S. business owners and their counterparts overseas. The NMBC Global Entrepreneurship Center, administered by NMBC Global, the council’s international arm, complements the council’s advocacy and business development services and programs geared to the U.S. market with new programs, professional services, mentorship, operating space and access to relationships aimed at business owners in the United States and worldwide.
“Thanks to technology, the business world has leveled out considerably, with new and exciting relationships being forged, especially in the emerging markets of Africa, Asia and South America,” says Benjamin Jones, chairman of the NMBC’s board of directors and president of Lightning Supply Inc., distributors of electrical supplies and safety equipment. “At our Global Entrepreneurship Center, entrepreneurs from many parts of the world can share resources and relationships to create jobs, wealth and social and economic stability in the communities where they operate.”
Fritz-Earle McLymont, a co-founder of the NMBC in 1972 and managing director of NMBC Global, says the new center is fitting for today’s global business landscape. “Much has changed locally and globally in the four decades since the NMBC was established. Much of the world now accepts and recognizes what is called “minority” leadership in business and politics, and with all this progress comes unprecedented opportunities. NMBC members and those of like interests should claim these opportunities for a 21st century that is shaping up to be quite different in terms of how business is conducted,” he says.
Global entrepreneurship is on the rise, with annual events, such as the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurship Week, celebrating innovators and job creators who launch startups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth, and expand human welfare. The Internet, global telecommunications, and an increasingly complex global supply chain have opened opportunities for smaller firms to supply goods and services to global markets or to larger companies that sell to those markets.
In 2012, U.S. companies sold a record $2.2 trillion worth of goods and services overseas, claiming only a tiny fraction of a total overseas market worth about $55 trillion. And those exports were made by less than 2 percent of all U.S. businesses, and more than half of the businesses that exported did so to just one market — Canada.
The NMBC’s new entrepreneurship center is in the process of establishing “relationship centers” in Shanghai, China; Paris, France; Johannesburg, South Africa; Kingston, Jamaica; and Sao Paulo, Brazil, where council members and center participants will have direct access to “reliable and trustworthy contacts and resources” to conduct business. “There is a strong tendency among many of us to spend a lot of time focused on what we have the least of, money, while ignoring what we have the most of, human capital. Mindful of the relative value of financial capital versus relationship capital in this information age, the NMBC Global Entrepreneurship Center will stress the importance of building and maintaining relationships around the core value of sharing,” says McLymont, who also is managing partner at McLymont, Kunda & Co., a consulting firm providing international trade and business development services.
Initially, the center will focus on industries that both reflect the NMBC membership and offer new and/or growth opportunities for communities served by the NMBC. These include media and entertainment, IT, energy and environment, construction, food and agriculture, education, creative and youth. The center plans to add more industries as it expands. To date it has attracted businesses from the U.S., Europe, China, Africa, the Caribbean and the Middle East in IT, media and entertainment, finance, renewable energy and personal care.
Anyone wishing to join the center must be referred by a member and/or associate of the NMBC, and must go through an application and evaluation process. Membership in the center is fee-based and renewable annually.