A US small business will use a loan supported by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (Opic) to expand its agricultural commodity processing and trading operations in Moldova by constructing a new grain loading terminal and an oilseed crushing facility, helping the country to overcome an obstacle to the export of its agricultural products.

Opic will provide a guarantee for a US$10mn loan to ICS Kelley Grains Corporation, a small business owned by Vaja Jhashi, a US citizen. The loan will finance the construction of a new grain loading terminal at a newly-built port on the Danube River in Jurjulesht, Moldova.

The grain terminal, the first of its kind in Moldova, will enable Trans Oil Group and other Moldovan businesses to export agricultural products directly from Moldova rather than from ports in neighbouring Ukraine. The terminal will include state-of-the-art US-manufactured equipment, which will improve the overall logistics infrastructure for Moldovan exporters.

Loan proceeds will also finance the construction of a new oilseed crushing facility in Chadir Lunga, Moldova. The loan is being made by WorldBusiness Capital, a commercial finance company specialising in loans to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating in emerging markets.

Kelley Grains is part of the Trans Oil Group of companies, which comprises seven Moldovan companies that process and trade agricultural commodities, primarily sunflower seeds, barley, grain and corn. Trans Oil Group consists of assets privatized by the Republic of Moldovan and includes a chain of grain elevators in Moldova with a total capacity of 400,000 metric tons along with flour processing and feed mills.

The project will also generate at least 75 local permanent jobs in Moldova, half of them in sales and management positions. Kelley Grains provides benefits to its employees that exceed local requirements, such as three-month maternity leave, extended health care coverage, daily meals in a company cafeteria, and transportation to and from the company facility.

“This project will facilitate the growth of a US-owned small business which is making a valuable contribution to the Republic of Moldova’s economy, enhancing its physical infrastructure and generating high-skilled jobs in the process,” says Opic president and CEO Robert Mosbacher. “Opic is pleased to support a project with so many developmental benefits.”

WorldBusiness Capital has successfully closed loans in emerging markets throughout the world. In 2003 Opic entered into a cooperative agreement with WorldBusiness Capital to expand support for SMEs investing overseas and enhance the activities of Opic’s Small Business Center. “We are pleased to assist Moldova’s continuing development by financing a US entrepreneur supported by Opic’s small business programmes,” says Brett Silvers, WorldBusiness Capital’s CEO.