The Future of Business Virtual Series

Take part in The Future of Business Virtual Series with the US Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) – U.S. Department of Commerce on October 16 @2:00pm EDT.

The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) invites you to participate in The Future of Business Virtual Series with the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA).

Topics that will be discussed:
COVID-19 response initiatives
Entrepreneurial network expansion

Keynote Remarks by the National Director of MBDA, Mr. David Byrd
– Dana Hauanio, Director of Honolulu MBDA Business Center
– Maye Saephanh, Director of MBDA Export Center
– Tony Tang, Program Director of San Jose MBDA Business Center
– Donna Ennis, Project Director of Georgia Tech Innovation Hub
– Dr. Christine Galib, Senior Program Director of Rice University Innovation Hub

Special Guest Moderator: Marco Cuesta, Senior Advisor of MBDA

Register today

Atlanta MBDA Centers Highlight MED WEEK Award-Winning Clients

As we recognize the major achievements and success of all minority business enterprises (MBEs), we are proud to announce and highlight two MBEs for the national recognition they will receive during 2020 Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week, September 14-19, 2020.  Our clients, Aventure Aviation, won “Exporter of the Year,” presented to a minority-owned firm that has achieved outstanding success in penetrating domestic and global markets, and Corporate Environmental Risk Management (CERM) won “Construction Firm of the Year,” presented to a minority-owned firm that has achieved outstanding success in private or public construction projects and has exhibited revenue and job growth over a sustained period of time.

Aventure Aviation is truly honored with the recognition as MBDA’s Minority Export Firm of the Year. Our success is due to the many organizations who have supported us in the past 20 years such as MBDA, U.S. Commercial Services, EXIM Bank, U.S. Department of Commerce and others,” said Zaheer Faruqi, President of Aventure Aviation.

While our clients continue to thrive and scale, we are pleased to see their efforts recognized and archived in historical records that display their strengths and achievements to the MBE companies following in their footsteps. We value MBEs and are excited to support and assist through this pivotal time. Our goal is to continue assisting and strengthening MBEs while they plan to reopen and strategize for the future.

“We are grateful and humbled by the support and commitment of the Atlanta MBDA Business Center has provided CERM.  It is a true testament to the hard-working professionals at the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute, especially Ms. Donna Ennis and her team,” said Albert Edwards, Founder and Managing Director of CERM. “Not only was it an honor to be nominated, but to receive the highest national recognition for a minority-owned company on our company’s 25th anniversary makes it all more special. Everyone at CERM thanks the Atlanta MBDA Business Center for its support and guidance year after year.” 

The MBDA National MED Week Awards are the highest level of national recognition that a U.S. minority-owned firm, individual, or organization can receive from the U.S. Department of Commerce. It is the opportunity to celebrate the outstanding achievements of MBEs, as well as the individuals and organizations that have demonstrated their commitment to advancing MBEs and the minority business community.

Client Spotlight: Montina Portis

Small Business Week: Celebrating Minority Business Enterprises

Montina Young Portis, CEO
& Founder of CIA Media Group

The Atlanta MBDA Centers are part of a national network of more than 40 centers and special projects that help minority business enterprises (MBEs) access markets, opportunities and capital; increase profitability; and scale and grow their businesses. The centers are funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), and operated by the Enterprise Innovation Institute, Georgia Tech’s economic development outreach unit.

Over the past 15 years, the Atlanta MBDA Centers have created a network of partners which consist of finance companies, corporations, certifying bodies and industry experts that assists in the scale and growth of our clients. A synergy is created as our resources collaborate, creating a community of leaders dedicated to building small businesses.

Recently, Montina Young Portis became a center client and has continued to ride the success wave. She interviewed with ACE, a strategic partner of the Atlanta MBDA Centers, and discussed her inspiring journey.

Check out the article below.

Montina Young Portis was a single parent posting videos on YouTube as a hobby. She amassed 12,000 subscribers to her channel and realized she had a knack for business and storytelling. Six years ago, she launched Creative Internet Authority, rebranded in 2018 as CIA Media Group, a nationwide video production and creative marketing agency that helps companies develop communications content and provides guidance on messaging strategies and external communications, thought leadership strategies and overall communications using videos.

“I spent the last 10 years using videos to share information online and nearly 20 years working in various careers including education, corporate training and information technology,” she says. “I spent several years researching and implementing the most effective video marketing strategies online.” She took a comprehensive approach with her clients. “My goal was always to tell more than just one story,” she says. “We produce 10 to 25 videos that do more than just promote services – they help clients establish themselves as authorities and thought leaders.”

Business was good, but the interest rate on her loan was a burden. When she met ACE founder Grace Fricks in 2014, she saw possibilities. “When I first applied, my application was denied but, I didn’t give up.  A few years later, I reapplied and was approved! I worked diligently with Bonita Doster and she guided me through the process. By refinancing my loan, the payments were reduced from $5,000 a month to a more manageable $800,” she says. “This resulted in a 79 percent increase in my 2018 revenues.”

Last year, Portis expanded the scope of her business to include several Fortune 500 companies, universities as well as government agencies. Her company has several certifications including Woman Business Enterprise (WBENC) and Minority Business Enterprise (MBE). Her team consists of two full-time employees, 2 part-time employees and has reached $1 million in sales.

Portis overcame long odds and many setbacks to become a successful entrepreneur, and she often shares her story to inspire others. “I was abandoned when I was 18 months old by my mother, and my father was in prison where he later passed after serving 19 years of a 20 year sentence,” she says. “By the age of 18, I was pregnant and living in a Y.W.C.A., and by 19 I was living in a homeless shelter with my 9 month old baby and pregnant again.”

Not one to give up, she got her G.E.D. and enrolled at Kent State, earning a bachelor’s degree in education and ultimately earning a master’s degree in management and organizational development from the University of Phoenix. “I’m proof that no matter who you are or what you do, anything is possible,” she says.

She recently completed studies at Cornell and was part of the Bank of America Women’s Entrepreneurship Program, and won a pitch competition and a $5,000 scholarship to Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. Her company was recognized by the Horizon Interactive Awards, a prestigious international competition for interactive media producers. She also works with Karen Malaga and takes full advantage of ACE’s advisory services.

“At this point, even though I probably could get traditional financing, I still would stick with ACE,” she says. “They offer so much more than just capital alone. They provide so many helpful resources including a business advisor, bookkeeping, webinars and networking opportunities. Plus, they really care. That makes a difference to me.”