SBA's Export Programs Get Small Businesses Exporting

By: Carlos Sosa, Regional Manager
SBA Office of International Trade

Every year during the third week of May, the President of the United States announces World Trade Week to focus attention on the value of trade and the benefits of exporting.

Exports are a central part of America’s economic growth. On average, sales grow faster, more jobs are created, and employees earn more than in non-exporting firms. Companies that export are 8.5 percent less likely to go out of business.

Is your small business ready to go global? It may be an easier step than you think. Advances in technology have put foreign sales opportunities well within the reach of many small businesses.

Small businesses often think they are too small to compete in the world market. In fact, 97 percent of all exporters are small businesses and more than two-thirds of exporters have fewer than 20 employees.

With 95 percent of the world’s population living outside of the United States, limiting your company’s sales to local or even national markets means you’re reaching just a small share of potential customers.

Paulson Premium Seed and Conditioning in Bowman, North Dakota, is one example of a small business that has expanded their market. Paulson Seed specializes in quality grain processing of food grade pulse commodities. Les Paulson often travels with trade missions to other countries to obtain new buyers for their locally produced pulse crops - mainly lentils, peas and chickpeas.

The U.S. Small Business Administration can help you get started and succeed in the global market through its trade education programs and international loan guarantees.

If you are just starting out, you’ll want to view "Six Steps to Begin Exporting ” where you’ll find a wealth of information including an export self-assessment, links to our counseling and training resources, and market research and find-buyers tools.  At any point you can enlist the support of a business counselor from the ND Small Business Development Center or the North Dakota Women’s Business Center to help you move to the next level.

Export financing is a key competitive factor for exporters and may increase your chances of success. SBA offers a number of loan guaranty programs that will enable you to obtain working capital to finance pre- and post-shipment needs, increase global competitiveness, enhance your ability to export a product or service and finance the acquisition of long-term fixed assets.

Do you need working capital to support labor or to buy raw materials to produce more of your product for exporting? SBA’s Export Working Capital (EWCP) loan can be tailored specifically to fund a foreign purchase order, contract or multiple contracts on a revolving line of credit basis. The EWCP offers a maximum loan amount of $5 million, low fees and quick processing times.

Do you need additional equipment, machinery or improved facilities to meet an export order request? SBA’s International Trade Loan Program (ITL) can help. The ITL provides a combination of fixed asset, working capital and related debt refinancing. It offers a maximum loan amount of $5 million, maturities of up to 10 years for working capital, equipment (unless the useful life exceeds 10 years), and up to 25 years for real estate.

SBA’s Export Express Loan Program offers a term loan or a revolving line of credit for any purpose that increases a company’s ability to export. It has a maximum loan amount up to $500,000 and is streamlined for a 36 hour response from the SBA.

As you explore these financing options you need not go it alone.  The SBA’s trade and finance managers at U.S. Export Assistance Centers can advise and guide you through every step of the process.  For more information, start at the SBA’s Exporting website, or contact Carlos Sosa, SBA Office of International Trade at 612.348.1642 (, or Al Haut, SBA North Dakota District Office at 701.239.5049 (

Carlos SosaCarlos Sosa is the Regional Trade Finance Manager for the SBA's Office of International Trade, overseeing SBA's export financing programs for Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Iowa. He has 27 years of Trade Finance Lending/International Banking expertise, a degree in Finance and an MBA. Before joining SBA, Carlos worked for 3 New Orleans based banks as well as a large Ohio based Regional Bank and a large New York based National Bank. Carlos can be reached at