Connecting Small Businesses to the World
University of Texas at San Antonio/Universidad Veracruzana
If you’re a Mexican entrepreneur looking to create a business to support your family or expand your business to create jobs in your community, where do you get the information and tools that you need? Thanks to a partnership that is replicating the proven U.S. Small Business Development Center (SBDC) model, effective small-business assistance programs are now operating across Mexico.
The partnership between the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and the Universidad Veracruzana (UV), supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), began in 2006 and has trained more than 1,000 new economic development professionals and built a network of 89 Mexican SBDCs. The well-established Mexican Association of SBDCs (AMCDPE) is improving the competitiveness of the Mexican economy and ultimately hopes to grow to 100 centers across the country. AMCDPE developed Accreditation Standards based on the U.S. SBDC model and adapted for the Mexican legal and regulatory environment. Through the AMCDPE accreditation, the association can ensure that their centers are providing consistent and quality small-business assistance services that create economic impact.
One Mexican businesswoman welcomed the existence of the SBDC’s Incubation and Business Development Center (Centro de Incubación y Desarrollo Empresarial-CID) as her printing and design business, TATEMA, took shape. Gabriela Esparza of TATEMA said: “We would’ve never thought there was something similar to support our projects, it is very good that UV supports us. Now we are certain that we will succeed." The SBDC helped the business leader recognize the need for a business plan and determine more precisely their investment requirements.
The most exciting aspect of the partnership program for Cliff Paredes, director of the UTSA International Trade Center, is the web-based international trade platform that links U.S. and Mexican partners. “This will help tens of thousands of businesses by connecting them to one another and by providing the online tools and information that they need to grow their businesses”. Specifically designed for SBDC counselors, SBDCGlobal.com will provide SBDCs — at no cost — with the international connections, counseling tools, and market information that will help them increase their clients’ global sales.
The trade platform, launched in 2010, enables clients to find pre-qualified international suppliers and buyers to create sales and growth, giving 750,000 U.S. SBDC clients the opportunity to connect with Mexican businesses through this program. “The response from the U.S. has been very positive,”
Paredes said. “Small businesses have had a difficult time benefiting from globalization. This partnership provides them with the connections and information that large businesses have always had.” The private sector will be engaged to provide services through the platform: banks will advise on finance, lawyers on business regulations, shipping companies on transporting goods.
The partners’ hope is that all countries in the Americas will eventually be connected through the SBDC network so small-business owners across the region will have access to business counseling and training.
By Fall 2010, the newly formed SBDC networks in Colombia and El Salvador will connect their micro and small businesses to SBDCGlobal.com and multiple countries including Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama have expressed interest in applying the SBDC model in their countries. This partnership is connecting small businesses to the world.