Promoting Global Expansion in Minority-Owned Businesses through Foreign Market Consulting Projects

Last fall, the Global Business Center matched Foster undergraduate student teams with five foreign market research projects designed to grow revenues and profits for minority-owned, women-owned, and inner-city businesses. These projects were sourced through a partnership with the UW Consulting and Business Development Center (CBDC) and the Ascend 2020 program funded by JPMorgan Chase.

Madison Weinman, Jag Bains, and Jorge Espinoza consulted for Miss Marjorie’s Steel Drum Plantains

The students helped Seattle area companies enhance their international business growth strategies. Teams were tasked with evaluating foreign markets and providing a global expansion strategy tailored to each company. Over the course of a 10-week quarter, the students utilized their training in international business, strategy, finance, marketing, operations and supply chain management, to conduct research and make recommendations.

The chosen businesses represented many sectors including education, agriculture, technology and retail/consumer goods. One student project explored new markets for selling a master franchise license for Best in Class Education Center, a tutoring company that caters to kindergarten through high school students. Another project team worked with Triad Fisheries, a line-caught, frozen-at-sea, salmon business seeking international sales growth in Asia and Europe. A third team focused on deep research into the Philippines market for SolutionsResource LLC, a small technology and consulting company considering launching a new application in the Philippines. The fourth team started with 40 possible international markets for Miss Marjorie’s Steel Drum Plantains, a woman-owned company producing small batch plantain snacks. Miss Marjorie’s Owner, Donna Moodie, also received a global customer acquisition grant from the GBC that she’ll use to travel to trade shows recommended by the students. Finally, Krystyn Havens, CEO and Owner of Mantec Services, Inc, a manufacturing company specializing in safety bumpers and molded foam products targeted at the aerospace industry, also received a global customer acquisition grant and plans to use it to participate in one of the European trade shows that the student team researched and recommended.

The projects were a highlight of the students’ academic experiences, and the businesses all expressed that the projects were useful for helping them explore global market opportunities. Many intend to act on the recommendations in the coming months. One business owner said “I really enjoyed working with my student team and am especially appreciative of the perspective they offered. It definitely broadened my initial (quite intuitive) thoughts on exporting my product.” Mark Tupper of Triad Fisheries shared that the final report and recommendations “were exactly what I needed, and more than I expected.”

The Global Business Center at the Foster School of Business is home to one of only fifteen federally-funded CIBERs in the US. The UW CIBER was first funded by the U.S. Department of Education in 1991, and the CIBER grant supports many of the GBC’s student, faculty, and community programs designed to enhance U.S. global competitiveness.