Taken from ajc.com, By Mirtha Donastorg August 8th, 2023
Black entrepreneurs from Atlanta headed to Colombia on a trade mission
Trip marks the first time an all-Black group of entrepreneurs has gone on an official trade mission to the country
A group of 20 Black entrepreneurs from metro Atlanta will be traveling next week to Colombia on a trade mission – the first of its kind, officials announced Tuesday.
The entrepreneurs chosen for the mission are part of the Atlanta Black Chambers or the Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs (RICE), a nonprofit dedicated to developing, growing and scaling Black entrepreneurs. They will be interchanging primarily with Afro-Colombian business owners.
“This is the first official trade mission that the emphasis is on Afro-descendant business leaders and entrepreneurs,” said Luis Gilberto Murillo, Colombia’s Ambassador to the U.S.
The entrepreneurs will be visiting Cali, a city that Murillo called the “capital of the Black people of Colombia,” from August 13-20.
The trade mission is a collaboration of RICE, the Atlanta Black Chambers, the city’s economic development arm Invest Atlanta, Mayor Andre Dicken’s office and Colombian officials. The entrepreneurs on the mission represent a variety of industries, including construction, education, manufacturing and real estate.
The purpose of the trip is to expose the selected entrepreneurs to global business opportunities and start establishing relationships with potential suppliers, manufacturers and other relevant industry partners in Colombia.
Jennifer Barbosa is the founder and CEO of International Supply Partners, a supplier of medical, office, industrial and construction supplies and equipment. She is one of the entrepreneurs going on the mission and is hoping the visit will lead her to be more competitive in the global market and improve her access to materials for her clients.
“I have already started communicating and working with some of the manufacturers in Colombia, so I look forward to meeting them in person to continue to strengthen and foster those relationships,” Barbosa said.
The entrepreneurs were responsible for paying for half of the trip. The rest was covered by a RICE grant.
The trade mission will consist of a mix of meet-and-greets with Murillo and other officials, visits with companies like a cosmetics manufacturer, discussions at local universities and research centers and cultural experiences like a salsa dance show. The Atlantans will also receive business development follow-up and support over the next year.
The 20 businesspeople participating are:
- Ricardo Berris, Mi Group USA
- Dawn Sizemore, PracEd Solutions
- Channing Baker, Evolve Contractors
- Jonathan Exume, Technologists of Color
- Charla Mitchell, Charla Ruschelle
- Shellie Stark, InHer Peace Beauty
- Kris Hale, Dope Pieces
- James Few, Chosen Few Media
- Kyra Solomon, Solomon and Solomon Construction
- Yaminah Childress, YANY Beauty
- Natalie Jerome, Neighborhood Jewel Properties
- Jadaun Sweet, The Visual Lyricist
- Melba Clayton, Ez4u2 Shop
- L’Angela Lee, Honeysuckle Moon
- Lindsay Barnette, Kultured Misfits
- Akita Patterson, Experiential Marketing Development Network
- Natasha Simmons, Yacht Club Access
- Jennifer Barbosa, International Supply Partners
- Lauren Levins, L Gabrielle Enterprises
- Melvin Coleman, Essential Wealth Management
Colombia is not a new trading partner for Georgia. In 2013, the state established a trade office in the country and it is Georgia’s 25th-largest export destination. In 2022, Georgia exports to Colombia totaled $458.9 million, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development.