Global Diversity Initiative, CS, ITA
U.S. Department of Commerce

The Global Diversity Initiative (GDI), a program of the U.S. Commercial Service, provides services to increase the export of goods and services from women and minority business owners. Specifically, GDI works to engage, educate, and advocate for U.S. women- and minority-owned businesses so that they can tap into growing export markets for their goods and services. GDI also supports the Rural Export Initiative, which provides companies in rural areas better access to export assistance and global market research.

Contact: For more information on GDI, please contact GDI at (202) 482-4792 or visit us at

Women and Minority Businesses

U.S. Department of Commerce

Global Diversity Initiative

From 1992 to 2001, the total number of U.S. small and medium-sized firms that exported goods increased 105 percent, from 112,854 firms to 231,420 firms, according to the Commerce Department’s Exporter Data Base. Of all U.S. exporters, small and medium-sized firms make up 96.7 percent and export $165 billion of goods.

With 95 percent of the world market located outside of the United States, the Global Diversity Initiative’s (GDI) goal is to ensure that women business enterprises and minority business enterprises can fully tap into the world markets. Women business enterprises and minority owned enterprises are growing at impressive rates, in numbers, employees, and revenue, exceeding the growth rates for all other businesses. Evidently, women-owned, minority-owned and small businesses are a significant and growing part of the United States’ economic base. We in GDI believe that women and minority enterprises are well-positioned to step into the international area and to become a significant part of the exporter base.

GDI is the arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce) and the U.S. Government responsible for providing comprehensive trade-related services to U.S. women and minority business enterprises, including outreach, trade education, trade policy advocacy, and trade program development. Its mission is to educate, engage, and promote these segments of U.S. businesses in order to tap into emerging trade opportunities and to flourish in new markets. Through utilizing world-class trade assistance programs, women and minority firms can expand their capabilities and increase their markets.

While promoting trade opportunities and export assistance programs is central to the work of GDI, we also have an important role in international trade policy fora. GDI works hand-in-hand with small businesses, primarily through the administration of the Industry Trade Advisory Committee for Small and Minority Business for Trade Policy Matters (ITAC-11). ITAC-11 is the only advisory committee to the U.S. Government on small and minority business exporter concerns. ITAC-11 advises on the various market access issues faced by small and minority businesses to the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), thereby keeping the work of these agencies relevant to and representative of small business.

GDI also represents the interests of and advocates for U.S. small business at international organizations and meetings, including at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME) Working Party. U.S. government priorities for the SME Working Party include: globalization and trade facilitation; women’s entrepreneurship; e-commerce; and capital formation.