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UTSA Hosts Delegation of Government Officials from Colombia on a Technical SBDC Training Visit

(sena-visitSan Antonio, May 25, 2015) – The International Trade Center, a specialty Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Institute for Economic Development (IED), hosted a delegation of officials from the Colombian workforce development agency Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje (SENA) on a visit to San Antonio on May 11-12, 2014. The visitors saw first hand the operations of the IED and discussed the process of adapting and implementing the US SBDC model in Colombia.

SENA is the largest workforce training and small business assistance network in Colombia. It has 117 locations located throughout Colombia, which serve over 9 million people each year.

SBDCs, established throughout the US by the federal government in partnership with universities and colleges, assist entrepreneurs and business owners in establishing and growing their businesses through a free and confidential suite of advising services. Services include, but are not limited to, feasibility studies, business strategy, financial planning, marketing, production and professional networking. The Centers support new and existing businesses.

SENA visited UTSA as part of the process of creating a national network of 117 SBDCs in Colombia during 2015 and 2016. The goal of the visit was to learn more about the UTSA Small Business Development Center model and develop an agreement between UTSA and SENA that will provide the necessary consulting, training and guidance for the creation of a national SBDC network in Colombia.

“The visit to the UTSA Institute for Economic Development has allowed us to have an insight into the function and scope of the successful US SBDC model,” said Juan Pablo Castro Morales, Director of Promotions and Corporate Relations, SENA. “The information that was provided to us will enable us to have a better assessment of the impact that the model could have once implemented by SENA on the development of entrepreneurship in Colombia. This visit is the start of negotiations to establish a cooperation agreement with UTSA, that will enable the transfer of the model and deploy of 117 training centers across Colombia.”

This visit is part of the International Trade Center and Institute for Economic Development’s SBDCGlobal program that, with the support of the US Department of State, has been helping countries to develop US modeled SBDC networks in the Americas since 2003.

“On behalf of UTSA and the Institute for Economic Development we look forward to collaborating with SENA for the creation of a national network of centers based on the SBDC model in Colombia,” said Cliff Paredes, Director of the International Trade Center and leader of UTSAs program to develop SBDC networks in the Americas. “This project will assist SENA in continuing its great work in helping entrepreneurs and existing businesses start, grow and in becoming more competitive. The benefit for UTSA and the IED is that we will have a strong partner in Colombia with SENA and their national network of SBDCs that will open new trade and investment opportunities for Texas small businesses. This agreement will be an important milestone in the expansion for the SBDC model internationally and in increasing trade opportunities for clients of the International Trade Center via”

Leading the event on behalf of UTSA was: Robert McKinley, UTSA Associate Vice President for Economic Development; Cliff Paredes, International Trade Center, Director; and Mónica Alcoz, International Trade Center Senior International Business Advisor. Representing SENA on the visit was: María Andrea Nieto Romero, Director of Employment and Labor; Andrés Bautista Cabanillas, Employment and Labor Advisor; Carlos Arturo Gamba Castillo, Business Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneur Fund National Coordinator; Andrés Felipe Rey, Entrepreneur Fund National Coordinator; Omar Rolando Avila Torres, SME National Coordinator; William Daza Nieto, Technical Support Professional Leader; Juan Pablo Castro Morales, Director of Promotions and Corporate Relations.

The International Trade Center at UTSA is one of the largest and most successful trade assistance organizations in Texas. It helps companies become globally competitive through technical trade advising, customized market research and innovative training programs. The center is a specialty SBDC program in the South-West Texas Border SBDC Network. Follow them on Twitter (@TexasTrade) and like them on Facebook (

For more information on the project, visit For photos of the delegation, visit

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