When Apple unveiled its first class of 15 Black- and Brown-owned businesses “on the cutting edge of green technology and clean energy,” phones began buzzing at Argent Associates. Apple said the Plano-headquartered company—founded in 1998 by president and CEO Beatriz “Betty” Manetta—”has built its legacy by creating innovative supply chain solutions while keeping its commitment to environmental protection.”
Part of Apple’s Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, the program selected businesses from Silicon Valley to Detroit to tribal nations across the Midwest.
Argent’s CEO immigrated to the U.S. from Argentina as a young girl, Apple noted, and later worked for two decades at corporations including AT&T and Lucent Technologies. Manetta put her experience to use at Argent, growing it into a successful national company with east coast operations in Union, New Jersey.
The founder told D CEO she named Argent Associates “after my native Argentina—to remind myself of the courage and stamina it took to pick up and leave to a new beginning.”
“Building a diverse tech ecosystem”
Argent Associates says it’s “building a diverse tech-driven ecosystem for the better,” through Smarts Cities projects, community development, rural network connectivity, and more.
Argent’s emphasis has won the company numerous awards for its work, leadership, and workforce diversity, Apple emphasized in its announcement.
“Our benefit to corporations is our ability to be nimble, innovative, and cost competitive,” Manetta said in a Verizon blog post a few years back. “Our corporate customers get ‘nimbelocity’ (nimbleness with velocity) and to partner with us positively impacts the economic fabric our community.”
Her supply chain managed services company has three divisions: Pro-Argent provides engineering and installation for wireless customers; G-Argent provides green technology and services including refurbish, repair, refresh, and reselling of secondary market products; and Argent Business Solutions provides software applications and solutions, call centers, and tech support for government and enterprise clients.
From the White House to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Manetta’s impact extends far beyond Argent. As a member of President George W. Bush’s President’s Export Council, she was a champion of small business—advising on international trade’s impact on small, women and minority businesses, and chairing the sub-committee of Technology and Innovation.
She helps direct national policies around minority and women-owned business enterprises through her board memberships in the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the D/FW MSDC, and the Women’s Business Council Southwest.
To encourage young women to pursue tech entrepreneurism, Manetta is active on the board seats of Tech Titans, TIA, and Seton Hall University Board of Regents.
What keeps Manetta so active?
“It takes hard work. It’s not just about showing up,” she said in the blog post. “It’s about getting engaged and participating. I sit on many of the boards of these organizations and that helps for potential customers to see you in action, outside of your business.”
“If they see the passion and commitment for the community, that same passion and commitment is also shown in our respective companies,” she added. “All our employees have the same passion and drive that helps in our continued success.”
Battling obstacles to success: “Show them how it’s done!”
“The greatest obstacle to business success is the social belief that women have a bigger role at home than in business,” Manetta said in the blog post. “Some corporate team members can’t see minority women business enterprises providing solutions to corporate issues; either in technology or supply chain.”
But minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) can definitely scale, innovate, and have the financial capacity to deliver on their commitments, Manetta added.
“We’ve built businesses from the ground up—no VC, no male behind the scene (husband, father, brother, etc). Women are just as smart, savvy, and resourceful as our male counterparts and make things happen. How do we address the reluctance? We show them how it’s done!”
Never stop learning
One secret of Manetta and Argent’s success: they never stop learning.
“Knowledge is power and you need to stay fresh, knowledgeable, and accept mentors from all walks of life [and] business,” she said in the blog post.
“Throughout my career in corporate America, the utilization of peers and higher management leaders helped me to understand what’s needed to exceed in a corporate environment.”
Oh, and one other thing: “When you go to bat, make sure your team knows that failure is not an option.”
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