Small business owners learn about technology resources at Minority Business Roundtable

Ninety-five percent of South Carolina’s economy is small businesses, according to statistics from the state Department of Commerce. Small business owners from around the region heard Friday from national experts about technology that can help their shops and stores thrive.

The Minority Business Roundtable was presented by the U.S. Small Business Administration and MasterCard’s Master Your Card program, an educational program designed to help consumers, small businesses and governments get more from their money.

Master Your Card connects business owners with the right resources on a local level so they don’t have to limit their customers who want to pay electronically. Officials can help them negotiate rates for accepting cards and even find them the right company to process debit and credit card payments.

“One of the major areas of focus for MasterCard is small businesses … you are the engine for economic growth,” said Ravi Aurora, senior vice president of Global Community Relations.

Friday’s event in Columbia is one of 13 happening across the country as the Small Business Administration works to make itself “smart, bold and accessible,” said Elliot Cooper, district director of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s South Carolina District Office. Master Your Card representatives last visited the state in 2012 for an educational event with state Treasurer Curtis Loftis on safe and smart ways to use electronic payment technology.

The groups returned to Columbia after seeing South Carolina become more business-friendly.

“Your state has garnered a reputation for being just right for business,” Aurora said.

Aurora spoke to those gathered at the roundtable about the importance of leveraging technology to stay successful and draw customers. He said 82 percent of small businesses nationwide have websites but that only 28 percent have the capability to do sales online.

“People want speed and convenience,” he said. “You can’t push cash through a computer.”

Gov. Nikki Haley, who has touted job creation since the beginning of her campaign, agreed small businesses should be given every advantage to succeed. She also recalled her time spent working at the family clothing store keeping the books.

“Small businesses are survivors,” she said. “The only thing we can control is the service we give people when they come in the door.”

Haley said she has always told big industry leaders they must use local contractors and businesses whenever possible as the state recruits new plants and factories. She also spoke briefly about an upcoming trade trip to India, where she expects there to be discussions about information technology, pharmaceuticals and agriculture opportunities for South Carolina.

“There’s been interest from India for some time,” she said.

Small business owners can find more electronic payment resources from Master Your Card online.

Categories: Business