Online Learning Tool Bridges Technology Use Gap
Biz Tech-Connect, a free, online technology training tool, was launched recently to help bridge the “technology use gap” experienced by many women and minority small-business owners.
“Small businesses overall, including those that are women- and minority-owned, are growing, thanks in large part to increased access to the Internet,” said John Regan, vice president of small business segment marketing at AT&T. “Biz Tech-Connect helps entrepreneurs better understand and leverage technologies, such as e-mail, Web sites and high-speed Internet access to expand their business.”
Developed under the guidance of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), Biz Tech-Connect features:
- Free, online business applications
- Free, instructional Web-based seminars
- Video training courses hosted by business experts
- Up-to-the-minute business news through Small Business TV (provided by AT&T)
- Case studies
- Marketing and advertising information
- Customer relationship management information
- Financial management information
- Information on managing and growing a small business
Small business owners also can submit business and technology questions online that will be answered by the Web portal’s developers.
The Web learning tool was created by the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) and the Technology Partnership for Small Business Task Force co-founders Microsoft Corp., Cisco Systems, Inc. and AT&T.
“There is a significant body of knowledge from the private and public sector that shows an underutilization of technology by small, minority- and women-owned businesses,” said Ronald Langston, MBDA national director. “Ensuring that women and minority entrepreneurs realize their business success and competitiveness through the effective use of technology is essential to America’s economic strength.”
Microsoft convened the small business task force, now administered by ITAA, in response to an Urban Institute study that revealed that many women and minority business owners were not maximizing their earning potential by better utilizing technology.
The study also projected that the U.S. economy could capture up to $200 billion in additional revenue if technology use increased among minority- and women-owned businesses.
“Too often, minority- and women-owned businesses have not realized the benefits of the technology boom,” said Cindy Jimenez, ITAA vice president for government relations. “ITAA encourages companies across the IT industry to contribute information to aid small businesses’ access to technology through Biz Tech-Connect.”
The recommendation to create Biz Tech-Connect originated with a technology toolbox pilot and workshop by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) in 2004. Funded by the AT&T Foundation, the philanthropic arm of AT&T, the project gave women entrepreneurs easy access to the latest information about how technology can contribute to the success of their businesses.
WBENC has a membership of more than 6,500 certified, women-owned businesses with “technology users at every level,” according to Linda Denny, WBENC interim president. “WBENC aims to aid our women’s business enterprises (WBEs) in increasing their effectiveness and efficiency through technology.”