Microsoft’s Build Your Business Tour Marks New Year of Technology Workshops for African-American and Hispanic Small-Business Owners

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2001 — Today Microsoft Corp. kicked off the second year of its multicity Build Your Business Tour in Washington, D.C. The tour provides free workshops on the benefits of technology to African-American and Hispanic small-business owners throughout the country. Build Your Business Tour partners announced the new round of 170 workshops that Microsoft will offer in 10 key U.S. cities at the Washington event, which included a launch reception, a technology panel discussion and a production exposition.

Microsoft developed the Build Your Business Tour because it believes that in the new digital economy, embracing technology is important to the success of African-American and Hispanic small-business owners. Microsoft research suggests that African-American and Hispanic small-business owners want to use technology to better manage their businesses and that they fear falling behind if technology information is not readily available. African-American and Hispanic small-business owners also seek practical ways to maintain fiscal viability in the new digital economy. The workshops will offer methods of achieving this by showing business owners how they can integrate technology into a small-business plan.

The workshops’ topics range from developing a Web site and expanding market share to using census data to build a customer base. The 2001–2002 tour will cover the majority of African-American and Hispanic small-business owners in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Oakland, Calif., San Antonio, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

“With online sales expected to increase from $21 billion in 1999 to $110 billion by 2003, and minorities logging on at twice the rate of the general population, small businesses with the appropriate technology will be in the vanguard of this economic growth,” said Martin Taylor, director of business strategy, office of the CEO at Microsoft. “By building upon the successes of last year’s tour, Microsoft remains steadfast in its commitment to equip African-American and Hispanic small-business owners with the tools they need to prosper in this technological era.”

National tour participants attending the Washington launch included Tavis Smiley, president and CEO of The Smiley Group Inc.; Omar Wasow, executive director of BlackPlanet.com; and Derek Caracciolo, southeast regional director of commercial sales for Compaq Computer Corp., the tour’s national technology partner.

“Small businesses are looking for trusted advisers who can support their near-term and long-term technology needs,” said Dan Busse, director of marketing for North America Small and Medium Businesses at Compaq. “We are pleased to join Microsoft and the other participants on these tours to demonstrate how small businesses can have access to high-quality and affordable technology solutions.”

The Smiley Group is Microsoft’s small-business affiliate, and Tavis Smiley serves as the tour’s spokesperson and advocate in the effort to build on the ongoing and long-term work Microsoft has done in the African-American and Hispanic communities to help close the business divide. The Smiley Group, of which Tavis Smiley is the president and CEO, benefited from integrating technology into its business plan, saving it time and money, increasing productivity, enabling networking and improving customer relationships.

Although the majority of African-American and Hispanic small-business proprietors own computers, only about 2 percent of African-American and 6 percent of Hispanic small-business owners have an e-commerce strategy, compared with 35 percent of nonethnic small-business owners. The Build Your Business Tour seminars aim to equip African-American and Hispanic small businesses with the same e-commerce opportunities that other businesses successfully employ through a series of free, four-hour workshops that detail the basics of small-business computing and introduce participants to real-life small-business owners who have used this model to expand their own business agility.

Those interested in more information or wishing to register for the Microsoft®
workshops may call (877) 435-7638 or visit the workshop Web sites at http://www.msbigday.com/africanamerican.asp or http://www.msbigday.com/hispanic.asp .

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MFST”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

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