Alejandra Castillo is the first Latina to head the Department of Commerce's Minority Development Business Agency. MBDA's aim is to help minority owned businesses gain government contracts, partner with government contractors and gain access to capital.
Castillo said the efforts are not "altruism" but a recognition that the fabric of the country is changing dramatically and that for the U.S. to remain globally competitive, it has to help grow minority businesses. In a meeting with Hispanic media, Castillo emphasized what minority business owners should know about the agency:
1. The government spends $1 trillion buying products and services, and the MDBA is trying to ensure more minority businesses can be suppliers of those products and services. Castillo said many Latinos have businesses that are sufficient to sustain the family but may have opportunity to expand to larger businesses.
2. There is an interest in getting more Latinos and other minorities providing professional services. The areas include the legal, architectural, engineering and accounting professions.
3. Many companies need to diversify their suppliers in order to get government contracts. The MBDA works to connect companies with minority suppliers.
4. Latino business owners are underrepresented in the export market but are a natural fit, not just to Latin America but other regions as well. The agency wants to help more Latino businesses become involved in international markets.
5. In addition to connecting Latino-owned businesses with traditional providers of capital, such as banks, the MBDA can connect business owners with non-traditional investors such as venture capital, angel investors and crowd funding to increase access to capital.