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Special Report Part I: Quick Guide For Minorities

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In sheer numbers, this market is just shy of 2 million people. It counts among its ranks the fastest-growing segment of the small-business community--Latinos--and its members often provide goods and services in neighborhoods others have long abandoned.

But like comic Rodney Dangerfield, minority entrepreneurs often feel they "get no respect."

Who are today's minority entrepreneurs? Unlike their predecessors, they tend to be better educated, younger and have more resources and expertise gained from working in corporate America.

"Traditionally, minorities owned businesses in retail, but in the late 1980s and the 1990s, we've seen a diversification into high tech, construction and the service industries," says George Herrera, president and CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Herrera credits this, in part, to the growth of government contracting in the high-tech arena and the globalization of the U.S. economy.

"Not a lot of minorities are doing work globally, but as corporate America goes global, it triggers opportunities for subcontractors," says Susan Au Allen, president of the U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce.

While minorities aren't turning to international commerce in large numbers yet, Herrera thinks their unique cultural ties position them to have a significant future impact on emerging markets in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

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This article was originally published in the February 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Special Report Part I: Quick Guide For Minorities.

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