COVID-19 recovery and global trade

Small businesses can build back better by seeking out international customers.


As your small business works to recover from economic disruption due to COVID-19, we are ready to support your business in growing globally and diversely through our Office of International Trade (OIT). Whether you are looking to export goods or services for the first time, expand into new markets, or increase your sales in existing markets, OIT can direct you to programs and services to assist you on your road to recovery and increased resiliency.

Explore the following strategies and resources to help you increase sales through exporting:

Take advantage of free business counseling

Tap into SBA Resource Partners for free business counseling, support, and resources. From mentorship to business plan reviews, our Resource Partners stand ready to help you achieve success

Build or upgrade your online presence

Are you selling online but need a global digital strategy? Are potential customers around the world able to find you and your product? Is your website built to impress? E-commerce sales are more important than ever and can help take your business to the next level.

The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) can help you develop an e-commerce and digital strategy that helps you grow your business smartly and stay compliant with international trade laws. SBA business counseling and other federal government partner programs can help you consider how to:

  • Build direct-to-customer webstore architecture
  • Select omnichannel platforms
  • Choose e-payment options  
  • Think through logistics considerations
  • Engage in e-commerce marketing and consumer acquisition
  • Optimize your website
  • Use international platforms and drop shipping
  • Determine if your product is ready for e-commerce

SBA’s business counselors can assist you in incorporating e-commerce into your business plan.

Identify international opportunities

Need help identifying where you may find international customers? SBA Resource Partners provide free business counseling to connect you to information and market research. At your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Women’s Business Center, Veteran’s Business Opportunity Center, or SCORE chapter, you can find business specialists who can review your business plan with you and discuss opportunities you may wish to explore.

Through business counseling, you can be referred to SBA partners such as DOC’s International Trade Administration. They operate programs including Virtual Introduction to help you reach potential buyers, as well as the International Partner Search feature to find potential partners. DOC also has additional resources to help you find international buyers, trade shows, and trade missions.

Build resilient supply chains

SBA partners with DOC’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) National Network, which connects small businesses to other U.S. manufacturers who can supply critical inputs through the Supplier Scouting program. MEP identifies manufacturers’ production and technical capabilities and connects them with potential matches and contract manufactures. Supplier Scouting can be applied on a national, regional, or local scale.

MEP centers help connect manufacturers to other resources to help them grow and innovate and can be used in conjunction with SBA Resource Partners. Find your local MEP network center.

Explore USDA support for exports of food and agriculture

USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) helps agricultural exporters enhance business opportunities and access overseas markets:

Export finance

  • USDA Export Credit Guarantee Program: Also known as GSM-102, this program provides credit guarantees to encourage commercial financing of exports of U.S. agricultural products. Under this program, FAS guarantees payments due from foreign banks under letters of credit.
  • USDA Facility Guarantee Program (FGP): FGP provides guarantees to finance commercial exports of manufactured goods and U.S. services that will be used to establish or improve agriculture-related facilities in emerging countries.

Market introductions

  • Trade Missions and Shows: USDA’s trade missions, endorsed trade shows, and virtual trade events offer market entry opportunities to U.S. exporters as they explore business opportunities and meet potential partners and customers.

Find more information on these and other FAS services, including those related to market intelligence and export assistance.

Consider loan guarantees and insurance products

SBA’s international trade finance programs and partner programs can help grow sales and protect your products:

  • Export Express, our most flexible trade finance product, may be able to help kick off and promote your export activities.
  • Our Export Working Capital Loan line of credit can support export transactions from purchase orders to collections.
  • Our Export Trade Managers provide referrals to SBA Export Lenders and counsel U.S. small businesses on how to structure complicated transactions, including how to approach working capital requirements even in challenging financial circumstances and how to build in insurance and intellectual property protection.

Contact an SBA Export Finance Manager today to explore how to offer terms to your customers and borrow against inventory, if necessary, when other collateral is not an option.

Small businesses struggling to secure traditional loans may also wish to explore microloans up to $50,000 offered with business counseling through SBA's microloan providers or 504 loans through Certified Development Companies.

U.S. Import Export Bank (EXIM) offers multi-buyer credit insurance that protects an exporter’s accounts receivable and provides significant benefits. Often used in tandem with SBA’s products, the protection of an EXIM insurance policy equips businesses with the confidence necessary to enter new markets and chart a path forward with margins that they can depend on.

Connect with state and local resources

SBA Resource Partners can connect you with federal, state, and local ecosystems of support for small businesses. Many U.S. states and territories have grant programs to help small businesses and programs that complement those offered by SBA. For example, the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) provides financial awards across the majority of U.S. state and territory governments in order to assist small businesses with export development. Talk to your SBDC counselor about what resources may be available to you.

Office of International Trade Hotline

Contact the Office of International Trade Hotline

For additional help, please contact SBA’s Office of International Trade Hotline: 855-722-4877 or

Last updated June 14, 2023