Grovara grows with SBA’s export loan and pandemic programs

Abu Kamara Grovara

Abu Kamara, a native of Sierra Leone, is the Co-Founder & CEO of Grovara. Since the company's founding in 2010, exporting is Grovara's entire business. One hundred percent of Grovara's sales are international, facilitated by their digital exporting solution. Grovara is the exports and imports wholesale marketplace for consumer and food service brands: their platform streamlines the entire process from product discovery, order processing, to payments and fulfillment, all in a single marketplace. 

Grovara provides an EXIM-backed, trade-financed insurance policy covering mishaps associated with transactions and maintains in-country expertise via relationships with trade, foreign agricultural service and U.S. Embassy representatives. Headquartered in Philadelphia, the business has 30 employees and many in-country experts and supply chain/logistics acting as an extension of brands' sales teams, moving thousands of products into more than 72 countries in the Middle East, Central Africa, Southeast Asia, Central and South America, Australia, South Africa, and Europe.

Grovara received a small SBA Export Express loan in 2012 to get their business started. They also utilized SBA’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) and Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture programs to conduct trade missions to Australia in 2015. Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Pennsylvania invested in the business in 2016 and in 2022. 

Grovara’s global supply chain was impacted during the pandemic, with country-specific requirements, a sea of export and operations documentation, and inefficiencies among logistics providers. The business credits receiving the SBA’s COVID EIDL loan and SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) forgivable loan to help keep their employees on payroll.

“Exporting is challenging; that's why only 1 in 10 American companies sell overseas,” said Steve Dixel, SBA Eastern Pennsylvania Director. “However, CEO Abu Kamara knows that the opportunities are enormous as 95% of global consumers live outside the U.S. We are proud to have played a role in helping Grovara through our Export Express Loan and STEP grant overcome obstacles to exporting and making it easier to enter and expand into international markets and thus positively impacting the global economy.”

“The future of trade is digital, with a human touch. The growth facilitated by our digital exporting solution has created and retained hundreds of jobs at dozens of small- to medium-sized companies all over the country,” said Abu Kamara, CEO and co-founder, Grovara. “I am thankful for the SBA Export Express loan that provided us the opportunity to start our business and for the SBA pandemic loan programs that sustained Grovara and our team members during COVID.”

In 2022, Grovara introduced its concept for reinventing the trade show. Its small-format, curated event, Grovara Food Week in Dubai, brought together 16 brands and 150 buyers from across the Middle East. Brands benefitted from Grovara's data-based matching of buyers with brands, who reeled in 25% of sales opportunities, which can be as low as 1% at large-format shows according to participating brands.

Grovara's business model revolves around opening access to foreign markets for U.S. CPG brands, and their team works daily to communicate how Grovara's online marketplace facilitates trade with ease, accuracy, and success. During this engagement, Grovara educates brands and provides a turnkey solution that boosts growth and valuation

Grovara's co-founders were named to the National Small Business Association's Small Business Technology Council and use their considerable global and innovation expertise to advocate for access to new markets. Grovara’s leadership team regularly speaks at retail, technology, and B2B conferences, sharing tips on how to access international markets and streamline exporting.

Export Express is the SBA's simplest export loan program. It provides up to $500,000 in financing. Any business that has been in operation for at least 12 full months, although not necessarily in exporting, and can demonstrate that the loan proceeds will support its export activity is eligible. Export Express can take the form of a term loan or a revolving line of credit. Loan proceeds may be used for business purposes that will enhance a company’s export development.

The STEP grant program has helped thousands of small businesses obtain grants and find customers in the international marketplace since 2011. STEP financial support helps U.S. small businesses learn to export, participate in foreign trade missions, export trade show exhibits, and more. Learn more about STEP at

This article does not constitute or imply an endorsement by the SBA of any opinions, products, or services of any private individual or entity.