UTSA completes SBDC counselors, directors training in Colombia Nov. 14-15

Colombia training

SBDC training in Colombia

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(Nov. 13, 2013) -- The International Trade Center at the UTSA Institute for Economic Development will complete its four-module Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Counselor and Director Certificate Trainings in Cali, Colombia, on Nov. 14-15. The programs will help establish SBDCs throughout the country to support business owners and entrepreneurs in Colombia.

The economy of Colombia, the third largest in Central and South America, is poised to be a leading trade partner with the United States since the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement went into effect in May 2012 and eliminated tariffs and other barriers to bilateral trade.

SBDCs, established throughout the United States by the federal government in partnership with state governments and universities and colleges, assist entrepreneurs and business owners in establishing and growing their businesses through free and confidential advising services. Services include feasibility studies, business strategies, financial planning, marketing, production and professional networking. The centers support new and existing businesses.

The goal of the training sessions is to transfer the SBDC model methodology and show professionals how to manage and operate an economic impact-producing SBDC and to connect and promote trade between small businesses in both countries. This training is part of the International Trade Center and Institute for Economic Development International SBDC Global Initiative that since 2003, with the support of the U.S. government, has helped countries develop U.S.-modeled SBDC networks in the Americas.

Cliff Paredes, UTSA International Trade Center director, and Monica Alcoz, senior international business consultant, will conduct UTSA's counselor and director certificate training, and will be accompanied by Robert McKinley, UTSA associate vice president for economic development, and Al Salgado, director of the South-West Texas Border SBDC Network.

"In a globalized economy, interconnected by networks worldwide, the Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) will allow our small businesses [in Colombia and the Americas], to grow, improve their productivity, competitiveness and generate a high and positive economic impact," said Jaime Fernando Rodríguez, Universidad Politécnico Grancolombiano, a participant in the certificate training in Bogotá.

At the conclusion of these final training events, more than 250 attendees, most of whom will go on to be SBDC directors or consultants in Colombia, will be awarded certificates by UTSA representatives as well as by Maria del Mar Palau, Colombian vice minister for business development (invited) and Daniel Arango, director for micro, small and medium enterprises in the Colombian Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, who will be in attendance to support the training.

In Cali, there are already three centers applying the SBDC Model, two with the Universidad ICESI and the other with the Universidad del Valle. In the coming year, Colombia is expected to have more than 125 pilot centers based on the model presented by UTSA.

"The SBDC certificate training was a learning space that allowed us to plan and structure how we want our center to be," said Karen Cuéllar Lasprilla, director of the Alaya Center at the University of ICESI, who attended the trainings in Cali. "It was also a great way to meet and interact with others and thus identify potential partnerships and unify efforts to generate greater economic and social impact in the country. I hope this is the first step to consolidate and formalize in Colombia a large enterprise network with a strong commitment of all our small business stakeholders."

This project is part of the South America Partnership Program, a collaborative partnership of the Higher Education for Development (HED), and UTSA, which was developed to create SBDC networks in South America and connect them to that of the United States, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. The project is funded by the U.S. Department of State Pathways for Prosperity initiative.

The International Trade Center at UTSA is one of the largest and most successful trade assistance organizations in Texas. It helps companies become globally competitive through technical trade consulting, customized market research and innovative training programs. The center is a specialty SBDC program in the South-West Texas Border SBDC Network. Follow them on Twitter (@TexasTrade) and like them on Facebook (Facebook.com/texastrade).

For more information about the project, visit the International Trade Center website.