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The Story Behind the Trade Center of the Americas

Updated: Sep 14



The Story Behind the Trade Center for the Americas

The Trade Center for the Americas was preceded by an international business venture, the South American Trade Forum (SATF). The SATF was an annual event established in the Twin Cities with the purpose of developing international trade and business cross-cultural understanding. It was attended by representatives from local and foreign governments, diplomats, corporate leaders, startups and entrepreneurs from across South America and the Midwest region of the United States.

The South American Trade Forum (SATF) was established by its founder, Silvia Ontaneda. Silvia, in partnership with other organizations such as the Minnesota Trade Office, the Federal Commercial Service, and the State Department, embassies and trade offices celebrated this annual event. Similarly, the SATF collaborated with major multinational companies such as Medtronic, Cargill and 3M, Ralco, in conjunction with various small and medium sized companies in the region as well. Being the only professional forum bridging the gap between the public and private sectors, the SATF strove to promote a similar sense of interconnectedness between the South American continent, Minnesota, and other Midwestern states.

As the South American Trade Forum grew in prominence, it became clear the organization had the potential to develop into much more than just an annual, albeit wildly successful, international trade event. Rather, the SATF began developing strategies based on its years of experience promoting trade between the Americas to promote sustainable business development focused on social capital and culturally aware market entry strategies. The paramount counsel and expertise provided by intrepid business leaders during the years the SATF was active helped us to develop the foundations for a more refined, social and cross-cultural business forum: The Trade Center of the Americas

The Trade Center of the Americas Strives to:

  • Uphold the principles of the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals by contributing to a more productive, vibrant and peaceful ecosystem for all the people living in the American continent.

  • Increase the Heartland's visibility as a leader on business sustainable practices and values throughout the Americas.

  • Contribute to an intercontinental (North, Central and South America) ecosystem that is focused on and inclusive economic growth and shared prosperity based on human capital.

  • Promote cross-cultural cooperation across the Americas by accelerating business development and multinational trade.

  • Facilitate business and entrepreneurship alternatives between and within Minnesota, the USA as a whole, and each respective nation within the Americas.

  • Develop innovative means to improve and implement reliable supply chains across the Americas.

About us?

We are committed to providing trade and business opportunities to communities of color, indigenous people, startups, small and medium size companies. Our vision is to bridge the economic gap through fostering sustainable development ecosystems and trade practices across the American continent (North, Central and South America)


About the Founder:

Silvia Ontaneda was born in Ecuador to a family of entrepreneurs where she learned the value of hard work, creativity, resilience, and integrity. Silvia obtained her law degree in International Law and Arbitration while working on her own startup company, employing and training several women from diverse communities. 

In 2002, Silvia and her family came to the USA as a graduate student, earning her degree in International Intellectual Property Law from the University of Minnesota Law School. She then re-joined the Ecuadorian Foreign Service. As a diplomat, Silvia represented the nation of Ecuador inWashington D.C. and in Minnesota for almost two decades. Silvia was the founder of the first two initiatives focused on protecting health and justice rights for all immigrants in the state. Both, the Centro Vida y Salud and the Centro Legal were established within the premises of the diplomat post. 

During her tenure as a diplomat, Silvia also founded the South American Trade Forum (SATF), where she proposed and helped establish the Ecuadorian Chamber of Commerce, the Minnesota-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce and the Brazilian Honorary Consulate to Minnesota. After her retirement from the Foreign Service, she has served as a consultant on issues related to sustainable development in different organizations across North, Central and South America.

Silvia is an alumni of the FBI Citizens Academy, where she started the Opioid Abuse Prevention Task Force. Silvia is also the co-founder for the Center for Women in Leadership and Diplomacy and the Latina Leadership Institute. With a passion for finding ways to provide economic growth opportunities and human rights protection to the most vulnerable, she volunteers for many organizations that are aligned to her mission. 

Why Establish the Trade Center of the Americas in Minnesota?

Minnesota's socially conscious and dynamic business culture makes the state the only logical choice to host the Trade Center of the Americas. With one of the highest standards of living, lowest poverty rates, relatively low rent prices, and a business-friendly tax structure, Minnesota is the ideal place for small businesses to grow and for startups and entrepreneurs to thrive. Minnesota’s business friendly and neoteric values inherently promotes startups and business ventures interested in pursuing conscientious social-impact endeavors. Notably, a majority of the 17 Fortune 500 Companies based in the Twin Cities area have incorporated the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG) into their respective business models. In short, Minnesota has taken the lead in supporting entrepreneurs and startups interested in making an impact.

The Trade Center of the Americas offers a unique opportunity to leverage sustainable development practices while promoting economic growth across regions, on both the micro and macro-economic level. As a startup incubator, a business accelerator, and a bilateral trade platform, the Trade Center of the Americas aims to become a premier organization providing the tools necessary to economic growth by doing businesses sustainably and based on social capital. 

Minnesota, the Midwest and the American Continent

There have never been more opportunities to innovate and for small- medium sized businesses to get their piece of the multi trillion-dollar flow of capital represented by international trade between the Americas. As the current global health crisis has disrupted formally solid international supply chains, members of the Trade Center of the Americas will  have unique access to our vast, multi-continental network to develop new alternative supply chains and to receive top-notch business consulting services. One of our objectives  is to promote a more economically integrated and socially responsible ecosystem through business coordination, where national borders and cultural differences are merely superficial entities rather than limiting realities. Celebrating cross-cultural understanding is the cornerstone of our business model because, ultimately, the most fruitful business connections develop through personal interactions where firms come together in pursuit of a shared interest. 

What the Trade Center for the Americas Offers:

  • We want to help individuals/companies/startups/entrepreneurs aiming to export/import products and services.

  • We offer a membership system through our innovative storytelling model and digital platform: We bridge the geographical and cultural gap by connecting people and building relationships through storytelling. The Trade Center provides a film/video system so that each member can share the values, vision, vision, history of their company, and the impact its business has on their community and the region.

  • We connect supply and demand. Our network of trade experts will help your business develop reliable, low cost, and sustainable supply chains for both the consumer and provider.

  • We provide educational seminars for all members in the following areas: public policy, country and state laws, business leadership, effective methods for entrepreneurship, sustainability, how to find investors for your business, and other topics of interest that arise from the needs of our members.

  • Consulting. We work with organizations and individuals that can offer mentoring, advice, and provide professional resources for entrepreneurs seeking to innovate social impact initiatives.

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