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News & Notes

Published July 8, 1999

Entrepreneur Roosevelt Roby (left) and Los Angeles Mayor recently met to talk about methods of increasing knowledge of world trade opportunities. One of the ways to this end is WBE-Net.

Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan recently expressed concern that too few independent small businesses were taking part in international trade.

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 economy?

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 worldwide."

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 [], 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 worldwide.

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 programs.

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 global marketplace.

Persons interested in WBE-Net, should call Mr. Roby at 310 215-1770, e-mail, or write to WBE-Net, 5777 W. Century Blvd, Suite 300, Los Angeles, CA 90045.


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