US Ex-Im Bank and the US Small Business Administration (SBA) have signed an agreement to widen the reach of, and make permanent, a co-operative programme that enables US small businesses to sell their products and services in foreign markets.

Ex-Im and the SBA have expanded the two agencies’ Co-Guarantee Program for five years, and increased Ex-Im Bank’s potential exposure at any one time under the programme to US$50mn. Previously the initiative, launched as a pilot programme in 2004, was limited to a total amount of US$45mn during the two-year test.

The programme allows US Ex-Im and SBA to co-guarantee loans of up to US$2mn to small business exporters under SBA’s Export Working Capital Program. Ex-Im Bank’s co-guarantee supplements SBA’s guarantee to help small business exporters obtain larger loans than SBA could support alone.




Borrowers still are able to work through their existing SBA lenders. Small businesses from Florida to Wisconsin have benefited from the programme.

“We are delighted that this programme will give even more help to those small businesses that need more capital than they could obtain under the SBA’s programme alone,” says James Lambright, Ex-Im’s chairman. “The programme helps Ex-Im Bank fulfil its mission to support US small business exports and American jobs, and answers the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee’s (TPCC) call for Ex-Im Bank and SBA to bring their working capital programs into line to leverage support for small business.”

The TPCC is an interagency task force chaired by the secretary of commerce charged with implementing a national export strategy to streamline the US government’s export promotion and trade finance services.

“The SBA is proud to be a partner with the Ex-Im Bank to back larger loans to small businesses,” adds SBA administrator Steven Preston. “This initiative allows entrepreneurs a bigger piece of the pie as they enter the global economy in a 21st century marketplace that does not recognise borders.”

The SBA US Export Assistance Centers, located in major metropolitan areas throughout the US, are one-stop shops ready to provide small or medium-sized businesses with local export assistance.