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With 96% of consumers outside the U.S. tips on how Hispanic small business leaders navigate cross-border business abroad

Thanks to a shift in spending habits following the recession, foreign markets offer the greatest growth opportunities for many Hispanic small businesses. From Southeast Asia to Latin America, Hispanic business leaders are discovering that foreign markets are far more approachable than initially thought.

The U.S. government estimates two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power are in foreign countries. According to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, “So much of what America makes is in great demand. Small and midsize companies’ growth potential is outside the U.S.”

Many small businesses mistakenly believe that they are too small to expand overseas. International expansion is viewed as too risky, too complicated and simply unaffordable. However, from Mexico to China, news agencies continue to report strong expansion opportunities for the Hispanic market.

Still Doing Business Only in the U.S.?

Consider this: 93 percent of the world’s consumers and 66 percent of the world’s purchasing power is outside the United States. In 2011, U.S. exports hit a record high of $13.8 trillion. That’s a 13.8 percent increase over 2010’s exports. Small businesses that only do business in the United States are losing out on critical growth opportunities.

The U.S. government is now providing financial backing for small business expansion overseas. The Small Business Administration will guarantee $5 million in working capital loans–an increase from $2 million in 2009. In 2011, the Export-Import Bank estimated that it provided $6 billion in loans for small business exports, up from $4.5 billion in 2010. The Commerce Department is actively working to remove trade barriers and tariff violations, expanding the international market for U.S. small businesses. To facilitate partnerships, the Commerce Department also launched a new website linking U.S. sellers to foreign buyers.

American-made products are also synonymous with high quality and reliability. Thanks to a plethora of recent recall scandals, many Asian consumers are turning from Asian-made food products to U.S. brand products.

According to Alyson Bisceglia, who works for Performance Packaging, “The weakening economy here has opened up our eyes or forced us to look elsewhere for market places. People recognize the United States as organic and the products have been safe, which is another concern over there [in Asia>.”

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