American General Supplies has received the 2007 Small Business Exporter of the Year for Sub-Saharan Africa award from US Ex-Im Bank at Ex-Im Bank’s annual conference in Washington, DC, on April 12.


An exporter of aircraft parts to airlines in Sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the world, American General Supplies began working with Ex-Im Bank in 1992 and, by using Ex-Im Bank’s working capital guarantee (WCG) programme, has increased its workforce from 25 to 65, and sales from US$11mn to US$20mn.


“In 2007 we expect sales to top US$30mn because we’ve won a major contract with Angola Airlines,” says American General Supplies chairman and president Kassa Maru. “We absolutely could not have grown to where we are today without the assistance of Ex-Im Bank’s working capital guarantee. Before using it we only were able to handle much smaller projects, but today, because of this assistance, we’re about to handle a transaction of millions of dollars.”


“A top Ex-Im Bank priority is to strengthen support for US exports to Sub-Saharan Africa, both to facilitate economic development in the region and to create and sustain US jobs,” says Ex-Im Bank chairman and president James Lambright. “American General Supplies is an excellent example of what can be accomplished by an innovative small business under our Working Capital Guarantee programme. It is a most worthy recipient of this award.”


Maru started his company in 1982 as a supplier of commercial aircraft spare parts to a few flag carriers of national airlines in East Africa. Today, it has diversified, established subsidiaries in New York and Burbank, California, and provides services globally.


Half of its business is with Africa, with a special emphasis on sub-Saharan Africa, 25% is with the US, and 25% is with Europe, the Far East and the Middle East.


“In addition to supplying spare parts for all types of commercial aircraft, we specialise in Boeing and Airbus series,” Maru says. “We also provide services in the areas of component overhaul, aircraft and engine maintenance coordination and management, and plan to set up our own repair/overhaul facility.”


Originally from Ethiopia, Maru and his family came to the US in 1977, established his company in 1982, and settled in Maryland in 1985. He and his family now are US citizens.


Ex-Im Bank’s 32nd annual conference on April 12 and 13 will be held at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC.