WASHINGTON – Today, Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), announced its 2023 Export Lender of the Year Award winners for their efforts to increase access to capital for U.S. small businesses by providing international trade financing. This year, the SBA’s Office of International Trade selected Regions Bank and Amerant Bank as the 2023 Export Lenders of the Year and Berkshire Bank as the 2023 International Trade Lender of the Year.
“SBA has long provided capital and growth strategies to strengthen our nation’s small businesses. This includes creating pathways for entrepreneurs to successfully trade in global markets,” said Administrator Guzman. “Our 2023 Export Lender Award winners set the standard for helping the SBA deliver financing to enable small businesses to do just that, helping our nation’s entrepreneurs grow and diversify their revenue, create jobs, compete globally, and continue our nation’s historic economic recovery under President Biden’s leadership.”
“We remain steadfast in our commitment to the stability of the broader financial sector, especially with local and regional institutions, who are our key partners around the country. We are honored to recognize three partners, Regions Bank, Amerant Bank, and Berkshire Bank, as the SBA’s Export Lenders of the Year for 2023. Access to capital is key for any business engaged in international trade. The export financing provided by our lending partners is crucial to bridging the trade finance gap and allowing American small businesses to open new markets,” said SBA Associate Administrator for the Office of International Trade Gabriel Esparza. “Small businesses engaged in international trade grow faster, pay higher wages, and have greater economic stability when compared to non-exporters. We are proud of the role each of these award-winning lending partners plays in supporting export activity.”
The Export Lender of the Year Awards recognizes excellence in export financing. These awards highlight the accomplishments of lenders in delivering SBA’s international finance programs to small businesses, designed to help small businesses develop new markets, finance export transactions, and expand capacity to meet overseas demand.
Regions Bank – Export Lender of the Year
Headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, Regions Bank has been the top Export Working Capital Lender by total dollar value for the past four years. In 2022, Regions Bank provided more than $36 million in financing support to small business exporters through the Export Working Capital Program (EWCP) and International Trade Loan programs. With the addition of its new loans in 2022, Regions Bank maintained the largest active EWCP portfolio nationally. This is Regions Bank’s second Export Lender of the Year selection, as the institution was also recognized with the award in 2019.
“Regions Bank is deeply committed to the success of small businesses,” said Caroline Taylor, head of Small Business Administration Lending for Regions Bank. “Our approach begins with the experience and insights of bankers who take the time to listen to clients – and then develop customized solutions to help turn the client’s vision into reality. A key part of our success is our Global Trade team, which works in collaboration with the SBA, leveraging options such as the SBA’s export programs to connect entrepreneurs, quite literally, to a world of new opportunities. As a result, we’re helping small businesses gain a global reach while building lasting, sustainable success in the communities where they are based. Regions Bank is honored to be recognized as Export Lender of the Year. And the greatest honor is seeing clients achieve and even surpass their goals for growth.”
Amerant Bank – Export Lender of the Year
Amerant Bank is headquartered in Coral Gables, Florida, with operations throughout South Florida and Houston, Texas. With a growing SBA department, Amerant Bank placed the export loan programs as a central part of their strategy, with export loans accounting for more than half of their commitments. In 2022, Amerant Bank provided more than $20 million in financing support to small business exporters through using the EWCP and Export Express programs. With strong growth under the EWCP program, Amerant applied for delegated authority in 2023.
“At Amerant Bank, we are committed to helping provide access to capital to small business exporters in our markets. With locations in markets that serve as two of the biggest international hubs in the U.S., our team members are experts at understanding local exporters’ needs, including purchase order financing, asset-based facilities, and international trade loans,” said Yvonne Boucugnani, Head of SBA Lending at Amerant Bank. “By working together with the local SBA Export Offices, we are able to provide our customers the solutions they need to expand their export markets and increase job opportunities.”
Berkshire Bank – International Trade Loan (ITL) Lender of the Year
Based in Boston, Berkshire Bank provided $15 million in financing support to small business exporters through their use of SBA’s International Trade Loan Program, one of SBA’s core export loan programs. For the past several years, Berkshire Bank has been an active user of SBA’s domestic and export loan programs and approved 193 SBA loans totaling $200 million in 2022. This is Berkshire Bank’s second Export Lender award as the institution was recognized as an Export Lender of the Year in 2019.
“Berkshire Bank, a socially responsible community bank, along with its SBA lending department, 44 Business Capital, is honored to receive this recognition from the United States Small Business Administration,” said Greg Poehlmann, Senior Vice President of 44 Business Capital. “Access to capital is a challenge for many small businesses these days and utilizing SBA’s International Trade Loan Program enables us to provide funding to qualifying borrowers in need of capital. Exporting is a great opportunity for small businesses to grow their customer base and the ITL Program provides the necessary credit enhancement tool for banks like Berkshire Bank and its SBA lending division, 44 Business Capital. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the SBA and leveraging many of SBA’s programs to assist small businesses.”
U.S. exports are important to the nation’s economy, with 97.4% of all exporters being small businesses. During the fiscal year 2022, the SBA guaranteed $423 million in financing to small business exporters, which supported over $1.6 billion in export sales.
About SBA’s Export Loan Programs
The SBA maintains a suite of three export loan programs designed to aid small businesses expanding internationally. The SBA’s flagship export program is the Export Working Capital Program (EWCP), an asset-based credit line that can support both purchase order and receivable financing. The International Trade Loan (ITL) is a 7(a) program that can support export capacity building and the reshoring of production. Finally, the Export Express program is a compliment to the SBA Express program which is positioned to support quick access to small-dollar financing needs. Additional details on the SBA’s export loan programs can be found at www.sba.gov/international.
About the U.S. Small Business Administration
The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow, or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov.