Boasting the busiest port, second
busiest airport, and the Alameda Corridor project (to build an underground
tunnel for the distribution of trade goods), the city stands uniquely
positioned to be the international trade capital of the world.
Why are Angelino's not taking advantage of the expanding global
Entrepreneur Roosevelt Roby, a three-year leader of the Intonational
Trade Subcommittee of the Mayor's Minority Business Opportunity
Committee, answered by presenting the mayor with a challenge.
The problem, according to Roby, is that many people are trade
interested, but they think it is too complicated for the average
person. Government resources abound, but their focus is on companies
and individuals who are considered "trade ready" (i.e., they manufacture
products suitable for export, or they have the means to finance
a trade mission to a foreign country to promote trade agreements).
They seem to ignore the fact that import/export is a people business;
it's about people supplying the needs of other people. Roby's theory
is that, "If you can run a yard sale, you can be successful in international
trade. It's simply a matter of supplying the needs of consumers
With a small amount of coaching, Roby says this is a business
anyone can operate, full or part time from home or office. He says
it requires no experience, college degree, or money up front for
inventory or stock.
In 1987, recognizing the trend toward advancements in computer
technology, Roby founded WBE-Net [http://www.wbe.net], the World
Business Exchange Network, a global trade association geared toward
independent agents and middlemen seeking the level playing field
of the Internet to develop their own trade businesses.
Roby created a computerized network database to provide import/export
training, market research and contact information to international
buyers and suppliers. It requires little, in terms of financial
resources, for members to participate. But, the rewards have proven
substantial for those who boast successful trade transactions.
Julius Hughes of Compton, California, will soon retire after 25
years of service working for the state. He says it wasn't always
easy living on a pay check. "WBE-Net gave me the opportunity and
the tools to participate in real money-making deals ranging from
a $25,000 blue jeans transaction to an $18 million steel contract
as a middle-man/agent.
"I made an investment for my future with WBE-Net's "Global Package,"
(which includes a computer, modem, fax /scanner/color printer/ plain
paper copier, and one-year membership in WBE's coaching program.)
"I trained my son to work with me in this business," Hughes added.
"I am proud to show him that we no longer need to rely on a paycheck."
While organizations such as the US Department of Commerce and
the World Trade Centers Association provide many benefits for major
league exporters, minor leaguers have remained virtually ignored.
With the growing popularity of the Internet, WBE-Net has managed
to position itself as the leader of independent agents and middlemen
The challenge that Roby presented Riordan, is to encourage greater
participation among Angelenos-both individuals and small business
owners by adding this new "agent/middleman" dimension to existing
In response, the mayor has directed the Alameda Corridor Business
Outreach Program (ACBOP, a division of MBOQ to issue a "Memorandum
of Understanding" (MOU) to the World Business Exchange Network.
MOU will serve as a cooperative framework to increase awareness
of international trade opportunities for minority, disadvantaged
and women-owned businesses through the use of the Internet. This
partnership aims to mold and guide entrepreneurs to focus on the