Exporting can mean big profits to a small business. For all the opportunities exporting provides, however, it can present as many challenges. Financing exports and fear of not being paid are two of the most often cited barriers to trade. This booklet is designed to take the mystery out of export finance and to answer the questions small businesses ask most. You’ll learn about the various types of financing available, how to approach your banker for a loan, where to go if your banker can’t or won’t provide the credit, how to negotiate low-risk, yet competitive payment terms with your buyers and much more.
As you plan for your trade financing needs, remember to allow enough time for the credit process. To secure the necessary financing, you should prepare thoroughly, following the guidelines suggested in this guide. Your preparedness, along with persistence and commitment, should pay huge dividends.
Q. What’s the first step? Where should I go to obtain export financing?
A. Your first resource for export financing is your local bank. If you cannot receive the necessary credit for your export activities from your own bank, you should shop around for another bank willing to consider your loan proposal. Generally, a bank that has an international department or one that is active in small business lending will be more receptive than others to your proposal. Ask your bank for the name of a correspondent bank that provides international financing assistance. In shopping for a bank, however, keep in mind the distinction between international trade services and international trade lending. Some banks have international divisions that offer international trade services, such as advising and negotiating letters of credit, but these divisions do not lend money. International lenders, on the other hand, have the authority to make loans, as well as provide related services. Be sure to verify that the bank officer with whom you are dealing has the authority to lend for an export transaction or is willing to work with another division that has lending authority.
Before approaching a bank for financial assistance, you should understand the distinction between venture capital and lending. Venture capitalists invest in a business by providing capital in exchange for equity. Venture capitalists expect that, as the business grows, their equity in the business will grow proportionally. Unlike the venture capitalist, the lender does not obtain equity in the enterprise. Lenders simply provide funds to a small business in the form of loans. Lenders make their money on the difference between the rate at which they borrow money and the rate at which they lend to their customers. Lenders, then, are more sensitive to risk; a proposal that looks good to the venture capitalist may not appeal to a lender.
Generally, you should make your financial arrangements well in advance of expected sales. If you wait until you need credit to begin talking to your banker, you’ll probably lose the sales. If you are unable to secure a conventional loan from a private lender, your next step should be to contact a government agency that provides export financing. See the resource directory below for information on available assistance programs.
Cardwell Manufacturing Co. of El Dorado, Kansas, won a bid from the Polish Oil & Gas Company, an agency of the Polish government, to furnish workover oil rigs valued in excess of $3,000,000. The company needed short-term financing to fill the order. SBA provided an 85 percent guarantee under its export working capital program on a loan of $850,000 to cover a portion of the manufacturing costs. The following year Cardwell received a contract from the General.
Petroleum Company of Cairo, Egypt, and requested another advance on its revolving loan guarantee to complete the job. Cardwell used a letter of credit to guarantee payment on this order. Cardwell, also selling to Russia and Syria, has achieved such great success in exporting that its local bank, through correspondent bank relationships, is now providing short-term working capital without SBA’s guarantee.
Q. What criteria will bankers use to evaluate my loan proposal? What documents should I take to the bank when I apply for a loan?
A. Some internationally oriented banks are willing to finance export sales for small businesses that otherwise might not qualify for general working capital financing. In all cases, finding a lender willing to consider your proposal requires that:
– the lender know you and feel confident in your ability to perform,
– the purpose of the loan makes sense for your business and
– the request is for a reasonable amount.
Deals that are the most bankable are ones in which you can show a secondary source of repayment, should your primary source fail. The banker needs to be reasonably assured of receiving payment if your promised source of repayment dries up.
Have these documents ready when you approach your lender:
– History of the business
– Domestic and export business plans
– Purpose of loan
– Export transaction-related documentation, e.g., letters of credit, import licenses, etc.
– Financial statements for past three years (balance sheet and income statements) for existing businesses
– Past three years’ tax returns
– Projections of income, expenses and cash flow
– Signed personal financial statements
Your banker will probably also ask to see the following:
– Personal resume
– Aging of accounts receivable and payable (for existing businesses)
– Schedule of term debts (for existing businesses)
– Lease details, if any
Q. What types of financing are available? Can I secure financing for each stage of the export process?
A. How you plan to use the proceeds determines the type of financing needed. It is important to keep in mind the difference between general working capital and transaction financing. General working capital financing can be used to acquire materials for work in process or to acquire inventory to satisfy an order. Your ability to qualify for general working capital financing depends on, among other things, the strength of your balance sheet and your prospects for generating sufficient earnings over the life of a loan to repay it.
Transaction financing, on the other hand, means financing to support specific transactions that, in most cases, are self-liquidating. With transaction financing, a bank can structure the loan so that a foreign buyer’s payment is received by the bank first. The bank then applies the sales proceeds to pay off the exporter’s loan before crediting the remainder to the exporter’s account. Structuring the loan this way, a bank can virtually eliminate any risk that a borrower will divert the export sales proceeds to a use other than repayment of the loan that helped generate the sale. By eliminating this risk, banks can become more aggressive about the kinds of businesses they finance and the size of loans they support.
Transaction financing is critical to many small, undercapitalized firms. Lenders who may otherwise have reached their lending limits for these businesses may nevertheless finance individual export sales if the lenders are assured that the loan proceeds will be used solely for pre-export production; and any export sale proceeds will first be collected by them before the balance is credited to the exporter. Given the extent of control lenders can exercise over such transactions and the existence of payment mechanisms unique to — or established for –international trade, transaction finance can be less risky for lenders than conventional working capital loans. The weaker the financial position of a company, the stronger the transactional base must be. When making transaction loans to less stable companies, bankers monitor the transactions more closely and must be able to control the outflow of documents and goods and the inflow of monies.
The term trade finance is commonly used to describe three distinct activities: pre-export, accounts receivable and market development financing.
Small businesses often need pre-export financing to gear up for specific export sales. Loan proceeds are used to pay for labor and materials or to acquire export inventory. Others may need accounts receivable financing, where a bank lends a variable amount based on the volume and quality of the borrower’s foreign accounts receivable. Keep in mind that most U.S. banks will not finance any of a small business’s foreign accounts receivable unless the accounts are fully backed by export credit insurance. If so insured, some banks will lend from 50 to 80 percent of the value of the receivable.
Financing for foreign market development activities, such as participation in overseas trade missions or trade shows, is often difficult for small businesses to arrange. Most banks are reluctant to finance these activities because, for many small firms, their ability to repay the loans depends on their success in consummating sales while on a mission — prospects that in many cases are speculative. Although difficult for many small firms to do, the recommended source for financing these activities is through the working capital of the firm. If your working capital is insufficient, then you should apply for a separate bank loan specifically for foreign market development activities. Negotiate with your banker a set repayment schedule that you can service realistically from your company’s cash flow.
Q. What payment mechanisms are used in international trade, and how do I select the best method for my export sale?
The primary methods of payment for international transactions, ranked in order from most secure to least secure for the exporter, include:
– Payment in Advance
– Letter of Credit
– Documentary Collection (Draft)
– Open Account
In negotiating payment terms, you will need to balance lowering your risks with offering competitive terms to your buyer.
PAYMENT IN ADVANCE
Many small businesses will export only when the buyer is willing to make payment in advance. While cash in advance may seem most advantageous to you, insisting on these terms ultimately could cost you sales. Foreign buyers prefer greater security and better cash utilization, just like domestic buyers. Some buyers may even find the requirement insulting, particularly if the buyer is credit-worthy in the eyes of the rest of the world. Advance payments and progress payments may be more acceptable to a buyer, but in highly competitive markets even these terms can result in lost sales.
LETTER OF CREDIT
A letter of credit (LC) is a payment method that, in essence, substitutes the credit-worthiness of a bank for that of a buyer. The importer, or buyer, applies to a bank for the LC. An irrevocable LC, once opened, cannot be changed without the express permission of the exporter. If an irrevocable letter of credit is confirmed by a U.S. bank, it virtually eliminates the commercial credit risk of an export sale. To some extent, a letter of credit also protects the buyer, because a bank cannot pay the exporter until the exporter presents documents that comply fully with the terms and conditions of the letter of credit.
Payment under an LC can be at sight, a certain number of days after sight, or by a date certain. At sight means payment must be made, generally within 72 hours, upon presentation of the required documents to obtain title to the goods. Payment a certain number of days after sight means the exporter will be paid sometime after negotiation or acceptance of the documents. Payment at a date certain is sometime after documents are negotiated or accepted, but at a date fixed by the terms of the LC. At sight or date certain means the least risk for the exporter.
When deciding whether to require payment by LC, you should consider the additional cost of bank confirmation and related fees. A typical LC can cost $200-$300, including your bank’s examination fee, which can range from 1/10 to 1/4 percent. The greater the value of the shipment, the greater the fee.
Another factor to consider is the possibility that your competitors may be willing to offer payment terms more favorable to the buyer. The cost of an LC to an importer can be significantly greater than the cost to an exporter. Some importers may not accept your payment terms because of these higher costs. Check with an experienced international banker to determine which payment method is right for you.
DOCUMENTARY COLLECTION (DRAFT)
Payment on collection terms is equivalent to COD (cash on delivery) or payment by check. The term documents against payment means that a buyer cannot obtain title to a shipment until it reaches its final destination and is paid for. The term documents against acceptance means a buyer can take title to a shipment after the shipment arrives and the buyer signs a time draft promising to pay in a certain period of time after receiving the documents.
Sales under documentary collections terms are less risky to a seller than open account because this method creates a written obligation to pay. On the other hand, an exporter faces the risk that a buyer may not acknowledge presentation or accept the documents. If this occurs, the exporter must absorb the costs of finding another buyer for the goods or have the goods returned for sale in the domestic market.
Selling on open account carries the greatest risk for the exporter. The open account method should be offered only when you have an established relationship with the buyer. It’s also appropriate for transactions between U.S. companies and their foreign subsidiaries. If you must sell on open account, stipulate the number of days from a specific date on which payment is due.
See page to learn more about protecting yourself against the commercial risk of nonpayment by insuring foreign accounts receivable. Also see page for information on Eximbank’s export credit insurance programs.
Q. What is a pro forma invoice? Does it play a role in export financing?
A. The ability to successfully finance an export sale can depend on whether the sale is arranged properly. A detailed, thorough pro forma invoice — or export quotation letter — is one tool that can help to reduce the risks associated with international transactions.
A pro forma invoice essentially is a quotation in an invoice format, but it is not used for payment purposes. A pro forma invoice can facilitate financing because, in addition to describing the product and setting the price and time of shipment, it can be used to establish the terms of sale and payment. The invoice is often used in tandem with a letter of credit. Your pro forma invoice should state that the transaction will be handled by LC and state all the conditions that the importer’s bank should include on the LC. The conditions that should be specified include exact cost, shipping costs, payment terms, insurance, banking charges and so forth. See page for a sample pro forma invoice. Providing a detailed pro forma invoice will enable the buyer to open a letter of credit that meets many of the common requirements needed to obtain pre-export financing from a U.S. bank. By establishing in advance how the buyer and seller will divide the risks and obligations of specific transactions and how payment will be remitted, lenders can make an accurate assessment of the risk inherent to a specific sale. Preparing a pro forma invoice also can help you anticipate financing costs, which, in some cases, can be built into the selling price of the export. For example, if you request a “letter of credit confirmed by a major U.S. bank,” the bank fee for confirming the letter of credit, which ordinarily is for the account of the seller, can be added to the price of the export. Even if the buyer is unwilling to pay the added cost, you know up front what fees must be absorbed and what the final profit margin will be.
Q. Specifically, how does a letter of credit work? What steps are involved?
A. The letter-of-credit process may seem cumbersome and confusing at first, but it is not difficult once you become familiar with it. Letters of credit can take many forms, but a typical transaction might involve these steps:
– The exporter, upon receiving an order for a specified quantity of goods, sends the buyer (importer) a pro forma invoice defining all conditions of the transaction.
– The importer takes the pro forma invoice to the bank and applies for an LC.
– After verifying the terms and reaching the appropriate credit decisions, the importer’s bank opens the LC and sends it to the exporter’s bank.
– The exporter’s bank authenticates the LC, verifying that it was issued by a viable bank, and mails it to the exporter.
– The exporter compares the LC with the original pro forma invoice to ensure that the exporter can ship before expiration and that all conditions were incorporated as intended.
– The exporter prepares, generally with the help of a freight forwarder, an invoice and a packing list. These documents must be completed exactly as specified in the LC. The exporter also prepares a shipper’s letter of instruction or SLI and any other specialized documents required, e.g., export license and certificate of origin. (Check with a customs broker to determine what documents are required in your case.)
– The freight forwarder receives the goods along with the completed paperwork in accordance with the terms of the LC.
– After the goods are shipped, the forwarder or exporter submits the LC and documents to the exporter’s bank.
– The exporter’s bank verifies that all required documents are in compliance with the letter of credit and forwards the documents package with a draft to the importer’s bank with wiring (payment) instructions.
– The importer’s bank reviews all documentation and, if the documents meet all requirements, credits the exporter’s bank.
– The importer’s bank simultaneously debits its customer’s account.
– The exporter’s bank credits the exporter’s account.
– At the same time, the importer’s bank releases documents to its customer. With documents in hand, the importer picks up the shipment.
Your banker and freight forwarder will become important resources during a letter-of-credit transaction. They will help to guide you through these steps.
Q. How can I protect myself against foreign exchange risk?
A. The best way to protect yourself against foreign exchange risk is to quote prices in U.S. dollars only. Conducting all business transactions in U.S. dollars transfers the exchange risk to the buyer. This strategy may, in some cases, alienate buyers who can receive better payment terms from your competitors. If you must quote in your buyer’s home currency, you should take steps to protect yourself against the exchange risk.
When invoicing in foreign currencies, you must consider the effect of foreign currency shifts on the price of the goods and services. There are three different types of foreign exchange risks. Economic exposure is the risk that your costs will rise due to movements in the exchange rate and make your goods uncompetitive in the world market. Transaction exposure is the risk that the exchange rate will move unfavorably from the time the contract is initiated to the point of completion. Thus the amount of money you receive for delivering the goods or services may be more or less than expected due to a change in the exchange rate. Finally, translation exposure is only applicable to firms with facilities overseas. This risk arises from the need to consolidate financial statements in one currency according to predetermined accounting rules. If you simply export goods overseas, you are not exposed to this type of risk.
You can protect yourself from foreign exchange risks in various ways. Again, the simplest strategy is to insist that all business transactions occur in U.S. dollars. This strategy eliminates transaction and translation risk but does not eliminate economic risk.
Some seasoned exporters reduce their exchange risk through factoring. In factoring, the exporter transfers title to its foreign accounts receivable on a discounted basis to a factoring house or factor. The factor assumes responsibility for the credit, collection and record-keeping functions for the client. The cost of factoring will vary depending on the services offered and the risk level of sales transactions but is higher than selling or borrowing on receivables. The higher costs, however, are often offset by the value of services provided.
Another option for protecting yourself against exchange risk is hedging. This ensures a set exchange rate and eliminates the risk of the currency moving in an unfavorable direction. This is accomplished through the use of forward and option contracts. You should consult with an international banker experienced in the currency markets before entering into these contracts.
Q. Will I need foreign credit insurance? Where can I obtain it?
A. Foreign credit insurance should be used to mitigate the inherent risks of exporting. Foreign credit insurance can be divided into two distinct risks: commercial and country. Commercial risk insurance offers protection against a buyer’s default on payment or bankruptcy. The country, or political, risk insurance protects you in case of war, sovereign acts or currency restrictions.
Foreign credit insurance can be obtained both in the private and public sectors; for many small businesses, however, the private sector market is extremely limited. The Export-Import Bank of the United States’ (Eximbank) credit insurance program insures both commercial and political risks. Information on these programs can be obtained by contacting Eximbank. See below for information on Eximbank’s credit insurance programs.
Keep in mind, however, that not all risks are covered by export credit insurance. For example, many policies do not cover losses due to disputes between the buyer and seller. Check with Eximbank or a broker specializing in export credit insurance to determine details of the coverage offered. Also, the cost of credit insurance can reduce your profit margin. If you choose to insure your accounts, be sure to consider that cost in the price quoted to your buyer.
Q. How is financing service exports different from financing product exports? Are there special tactics to consider?
A. Financing service exports presents special problems because there often is no tangible asset for a lender to secure. Therefore, small service providers must look to other ways of raising cash to finance their international sales. Among the alternatives are:
– Internal financing, including extended payment terms from suppliers, payment in advance from customers, mortgage refinancing and equipment refinancing
– Equity financing, including investment from venture capitalists, private placements, Small Business Investment Companies and public stock offerings
Service exporters should explore using advance or progress payments when negotiating an international sale. Progress payments not only benefit the exporter’s cash flow but can provide assurance to a buyer that the service will be delivered as promised.
Procurement opportunities for small business exporters also are available through Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs):
– World Bank, phone: (202) 458-0118
– Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), phone: (202) 623-1000
– Asian Development Bank (ADB), phone: 011-63-2-632-6050
– African Development Bank (AfDB), phone: (202) 429-5160
– European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), phone: 011-44-71-338-6459
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) also offers significant bid opportunities. Both USAID and the MDBs provide information on procurement opportunities through seminars and publications. See below for more information on USAID.
GOVERNMENT EXPORT FINANCE ASSISTANCE
Several federal agencies, as well as certain state governments, offer loan guarantee programs and other types of financing assistance for exporters.
U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)
SBA provides business development and financial assistance to help small businesses complete their export sales. The SBA offers loan guarantees to help businesses obtain the capital needed to explore, establish or expand international markets. As a prospective applicant, you should request that your lender seek SBA participation if the lender is unable or unwilling to make the loan directly.
The financing staff of each SBA office administers the loan guarantee programs. You can contact the finance division of your nearest SBA office for a list of participating lenders. The business development staff of each SBA office can provide counseling on how to request export financing assistance from a lender.
Export Working Capital Loan Guarantee Program
SBA offers export working capital loan guarantees to support single transactions or a series of like transactions. Loan maturities are generally for 12 months, with options to renew.
Loans can be used to finance labor and materials for manufacturing or wholesaling for export or to finance foreign accounts receivable. Foreign business travel and participation in trade shows are also among the eligible uses, but a regular 7(a) business loan may be more appropriate for these purposes.
Applicants must satisfy eligibility criteria established for all SBA loans. Also, the applicant must have been in business — not necessarily exporting — for at least 12 months’ continuous operation before filing an application.
Regular Business Loan Program
Small businesses that need money for fixed assets and for working capital may be eligible for the SBA’s regular 7(a) business loan guarantee program. The SBA can guarantee up to 90 percent of a bank loan up to $155,000. For larger loans, the maximum guarantee is 85 percent up to $750,000. Loan guarantees for fixed-asset acquisition have a maximum maturity of 25 years. Guarantees for general-purpose working capital loans have a maximum maturity of seven years.
To be eligible, the applicant’s business generally must be independently owned, operated for profit and fall within size standards set by SBA. Export trading companies (ETCs) and export management companies (EMCs) also may qualify for the SBA’s business loan guarantee program.
The International Trade Loan Program
The International Trade Loan Program provides long-term financing to help small businesses compete more effectively and to expand or develop export markets. No debt payment is allowed. Proceeds can be used to buy land and buildings; build new facilities; renovate, improve or expand existing facilities; and purchase or recondition machinery, equipment and fixtures. The working capital portion of the borrowing could be in the form of either an ERLC or a portion of the term loan.
Loan maturities cannot exceed 25 years, excluding the working capital portion of the financing. The SBA’s guaranty cannot exceed 85 percent of the loan amount. The agency’s maximum share for facilities or equipment loans is $1million, plus $250,000 for working capital.
Applicants must establish either of the following to meet eligibility requirements:
– Loan proceeds will significantly expand existing export markets or develop new ones.
– The applicant’s business is adversely affected by import competition.
Small Business Investment Company Financing
A Small Business Investment Company (SBIC), approved and licensed by the SBA, may also provide equity or working capital exceeding the agency’s $750,000 statutory maximum. Unlike the SBA, SBICs can invest in export trading companies in which banks have equity participation as long as other SBIC requirements are met.
Export-Import Bank of the United States
The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Eximbank) is an independent federal government agency responsible for assisting the export financing of U.S. goods and services through a variety of insurance, loan and guarantee programs. Eximbank has undertaken a major effort to reach more small business exporters with improved financing facilities and services.
Eximbank’s toll-free hotline provides information on seminars and the programs available to finance the sale of U.S. goods and services abroad. The phone number is 1-800-424-5201.
Export credit insurance programs reduce an exporter’s risk and can be obtained through an insurance broker or from Eximbank’s Insurance Division.
A wide range of policies is available to accommodate many different export credit insurance needs. Insurance coverage:
– protects the exporter against the failure of foreign buyers to pay their credit obligations for commercial or political reasons,
– encourages exporters to offer foreign buyers competitive terms of payment,
– supports an exporter’s prudent penetration of higher risk foreign markets and
– gives exporters and their banks greater financial flexibility in handling overseas accounts receivable.
Two policies designed for small businesses are the new-to-export and umbrella policies. Each is a short-term (up to 180 days) policy, under which, Eximbank assumes 95 percent of the commercial and 100 percent of the political risk involved in extending credit to the exporter’s overseas customers. These policies free the smaller exporter from “first loss” commercial risk deductible provisions that are usually found in other insurance policies. This special coverage is available to companies that are just beginning to export, or have an average annual export credit sales volume of less than $2,000,000 and meet the SBA definitions of small business.
The Working Capital Guarantee Program assists small businesses in obtaining crucial working capital to fund their export activities. The program guarantees 100 percent of the principal and interest on working capital loans extended by commercial lenders to eligible U.S. exporters. The loan may be used for pre-export activities such as the purchase of inventory, raw materials, the manufacture of a product or marketing. Eximbank requires the working capital loan to be secured with inventory, accounts receivable or by other appropriate collateral.
Direct and Intermediary Loans
Eximbank provides two types of loans: direct loans to foreign buyers of U.S. exports and intermediary loans to fund commercial lenders that extend loans to foreign buyers of U.S. capital goods and related services. Both the loan and guarantee programs cover up to 85 percent of the U.S. export value, with repayment terms of one year or more.
Direct or intermediary loans are offered at the lowest interest rate permitted under the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development arrangement for the market and term.
Guarantees by Ex-im bank provide repayment protection for private sector loans to credit-worthy buyers of U.S. capital equipment and services. The guarantee is available alone or may be combined with an intermediary loan.
Most guarantees provide comprehensive coverage of both political and commercial risks but political-risks-only coverage is also available. The guarantee covers 100 percent of principal and interest.
Contact: Marketing Division
Export-Import Bank of the United States
811 Vermont Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20571
U.S. Department of Commerce
The U.S. Department of Commerce provides trade finance counseling through the U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service (US&FCS). This field network of 70 domestic offices and 170 foreign posts provides counseling on federal, state and private trade finance resources and provides assistance in using these resources.
Contact: For more information and/or the telephone number of the US&FCS office nearest you, call the Trade Information Center at 1-800-USA-TRADE (1-800-872-8723)
U.S. Department of Agriculture
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) administers the Market Promotion Program (MPP), which helps U.S. producers and other organizations finance, through funds from USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), promotional activities for U.S. agricultural products. The MPP is intended to encourage the development, maintenance and expansion of commercial export markets for agricultural commodities. Under the MPP, funds from the CCC are used to partially reimburse program participants conducting specific foreign market development projects for eligible products in specified countries. Proposals for MPP programs are developed by trade organizations and private firms and submitted to USDA by a deadline specified in the program announcement USDA publishes annually in the Federal Register.
USDA has approved MPP programs to promote a wide variety of U.S. commodities in almost every region of the world. Activities financed by the program vary by commodity and include activities such as market research, consumer promotions and technical assistance.
Contact: Marketing Operations Staff at (202) 720-5521
Agency for International Development
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is the principal federal agency that implements the U.S. Foreign Economic Assistance Program in nearly 100 countries throughout the developing world. USAID commits loans and awards grants to eligible USAID-recipient countries. From these loans and grants flow technical assistance projects and commodity programs implemented through the provision of services and/or commodities from U.S. suppliers.
USAID’s Center for Trade & Investment Services (CTIS) promotes increased business activity between U.S. businesses and foreign entrepreneurs in Asia, the Near East, Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States of the former Soviet Union. CTIS provides information on USAID-financed procurement opportunities.
Contact: U.S. Agency for International Development
Center for Trade & Investment Services
Washington, DC 20523-0229
(202) 663-2660 or (800) USAID-4-U
USAID’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization/Minority Resource Center (OSDBU/MRC) maintains the USAID Consultant Registry Information.
System (ACRIS). ACRIS is an automated database that describes the capabilities of U.S. businesses, organizations and institutions that have expressed interest in participating in USAID-financed technical assistance projects. The Office also maintains the mailing list for the USAID Procurement Information Bulletin, which announces intended procurement opportunities of USAID-financed commodities.
Contact: U.S. Agency for International Development
Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business
Utilization/Minority Resource Center
Washington, DC 20523-1414
Overseas Private Investment Corporation
The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) provides project financing, investment insurance and a variety of investor services for U.S. companies in some 140 developing nations and emerging economies throughout the world. To encourage economic growth and investment in the countries in which OPIC programs are available, OPIC offers a multitude of financial services:
– Finance — To foster investment, OPIC offers medium- and long-term project financing. Direct loans are available to projects sponsored by American small businesses. For larger projects, OPIC will guarantee loans to projects sponsored by U.S. investors, starting at $2 million per project. OPIC also sponsors several funds offering equity investment.
– Insurance — To mitigate risks of investing overseas, OPIC insures U.S. investments against political violence, inconvertibility of currency and expropriation.
– Investor Services — For companies considering overseas investment, OPIC offers a variety of fee-based services, including feasibility studies, investment missions, a database of business opportunities and business outreach.
Contact: Information Officer
Overseas Private Investment Corporation
1100 New York Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20528
(202) 336-8799; fax (202) 408-5155
Printed material is available via fax, (202) 336-8700
U.S. Trade and Development Agency
The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (TDA) provides grants to fund feasibility studies and other planning services for major projects that are economic development priorities of recipient countries. TDA-funded studies must be performed by U.S. countries or consortia. A host country plays an active role in developing the scope of work for the study, selecting on a competitive basis the U.S. firm to complete it and monitoring the progress of the study. By carrying out a TDA-funded study, a U.S. company establishes a presence in the country and is able to develop long-term relations with host-country officials and project managers that can lead to additional business opportunities.
TDA operates in developing and middle-income countries. The types of projects TDA funds include energy and natural-resource development, transportation, telecommunications and the environment. TDA reviews project proposals to determine whether or not they meet project criteria, which include development priority, U.S. export potential, funding availability and competition.
Other TDA activities include:
– Definitional Missions — Once a promising project is identified, TDA hires an assessment team made up of U.S. technical experts to conduct a definitional mission (DM). DM studies are performed by small and minority-owned businesses. The purpose of the DM is to compile information critical to TDA’s internal selection process. Based on the advice of the DM team, among other factors, TDA determines whether to offer a grant for the feasibility study. DM consultants are precluded from participating in TDA-funded feasibility studies.
Contact: DM Hotline (703) 875-7447
– Feasibility Studies — TDA funds studies to determine the technical, economic and financial feasibility of major development projects. Feasibility studies provide detailed data that support decisions on whether and how to proceed with project implementation. Feasibility study contractors are selected by host countries using competitive procedures. Requests for proposals are listed in the Commerce Business Daily.
Contact: for on-line information on Commerce Business Daily: (202) 482-0632
For subscription information: (202) 783-3238
– TDA Bi-Weekly — TDA publishes a newsletter called the TDA Bi-Weekly, which provides U.S. suppliers and manufacturers with up-to-date information on TDA-supported projects. Small businesses may identify subcontracting opportunities through the publication.
Contact: for subscription information: (703) 875-4246
State Export Financing Programs
A number of state-sponsored export financing and loan guarantee programs are available. Many cities and states have established cooperative programs with the Eximbank and can provide specialized export finance counseling. Details of these programs are available through each state department of commerce or trade office.
U.S. SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION DISTRICT OFFICES
ALABAMA: 2121 Eighth Avenue North, Suite 200, Birmingham, AL 35203-2398; (205) 731-1344
ALASKA: 222 West 8th Avenue, Room 67, Anchorage, AK 99513; (907) 271-4022
ARIZONA: 2828 North Central Avenue, Suite 800, Phoenix, AZ 85004-1025; (602) 640-2360
ARKANSAS: 2120 Riverfront Drive, Suite 100, Little Rock, AR 72202; (501) 324-5278
CALIFORNIA: 2719 North Air Fresno Drive, Fresno, CA 93727-1547; (209) 487-5189
330 North Brand Boulevard, Suite 1200, Glendale, CA 91203-2304; (213) 894-2956
901 West Civil Center Drive, Suite 160, Santa Ana, CA 92703-2352; (714) 836-2494
Federal Building, Suite 4-S-29, 880 Front Street, San Diego, CA 92188-0270; (619) 557-7252
211 Main Street, 4th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105-1988; (415) 744-8489
COLORADO: 721 19th Street, Suite 426, Denver, CO 80202-2599; (303) 844-3984
CONNECTICUT: 330 Main Street, 2nd Floor, Hartford, CT 06106; (203) 240-4644
DELAWARE: See listing for King of Prussia, PA, office
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: 1110 Vermont Avenue, N.W., 9th Floor, Washington, DC 20005; (202) 606-4000
FLORIDA: 1320 South Dixie Highway, Suite 501, Coral Gables, FL 33146-2911; (305) 536-5521
7825 Baymeadows Way, Suite 100-B, Jacksonville, FL 32256-7504; (904) 443-1900
GEORGIA: 1720 Peachtree Road, N.W., 6th Floor, Atlanta, GA 30309; (404) 347-4749
HAWAII: 300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room 2213, Honolulu, HI 96850-4981; (808) 541-2990
IDAHO: 1020 Main Street, Suite 290, Boise, ID 83702-5745; (208) 334-1696
ILLINOIS: 500 West Madison Street, Suite 1250, Chicago, IL 60661-2511; (312) 353-4528
INDIANA: 429 North Pennsylvania Street, Suite 100, Indianapolis, IN 46204-1873; (317) 226-7272
IOWA: 373 Collins Road, N.E., Suite 100, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402-3147; (319) 393-8630
Federal Building, Suite 749, 210 Walnut Street, Des Moines, IA 50309; (515) 284-4422
KANSAS: 100 East English Street, Wichita, KS 67202; (316) 269-6273
KENTUCKY: 600 Dr. M.L. King, Jr. Place, Room 188, Louisville, KY 40202; (502) 582-5971
LOUISIANA: Ford-Fisk Building, Suite 2000; 1661 Canal Street, New Orleans, LA 70112; (504) 589-2354
MAINE: Federal Building, Room 512, 40 Western Avenue, Augusta, ME 04330; (207) 622-8378
MARYLAND: 10 South Howard Street, Room 608, Baltimore, MD 21202; (410) 962-4392
MASSACHUSETTS: 10 Causeway Street, Room 265, Boston, MA 02222-1093; (617) 565-5590
MICHIGAN: Patrick V. McNamara Building, Suite 515, 477 Michigan Avenue, Detroit, MI 48226; (313) 226-6075
MINNESOTA: Butler Square, Suite 610-C, 100 North 6th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55403-1563; (612) 370-2312
MISSISSIPPI: 101 West Capitol Street, Suite 400, Jackson, MS 39201; (601) 965-4378
MISSOURI: 323 West 8th Street, Suite 501, Kansas City, MO 64105; (816) 374-6708
815 Olive Street, Room 242, St. Louis, MO 63101; (314) 539-6600
MONTANA: Federal Building, Room 528, 301 South Park, Helena, MT 59626; (406) 449-5381
NEBRASKA: 11145 Mill Valley Road, Omaha, NE 68154; (402) 221-4691
NEVADA: 301 East Stewart Street, Room 301, Las Vegas, NV 89125-2527; (702) 388-6611
NEW HAMPSHIRE: 143 North Main Street, Suite 202, Concord, NH 03302-1257; (603) 225-1400
NEW JERSEY: Military Park Building, 4th Floor, 60 Park Place, Newark, NJ 07102; (201) 645-2434
NEW MEXICO: 625 Silver Avenue, S.W., Suite 320, Albuquerque, NM 87102; (505) 766-1870
NEW YORK: 111 West Huron Street, Room 1311, Buffalo, NY 14202; (716) 846-4301
26 Federal Plaza, Room 3100, New York, NY 10278; (212) 264-2454
Federal Building, Room 1071, 100 South Clinton Street, Syracuse, NY 13260; (315) 423-5383
NORTH CAROLINA: 200 North College Street, Suite A-2015, Charlotte, NC 28202-2137; (704) 344-6563
NORTH DAKOTA: Federal Building, Room 218, 657 Second Avenue North, Fargo, ND 58108- 3086; (701) 237-5131
OHIO: 1111 Superior Avenue, Suite 630, Cleveland, OH 44144-2507; (216) 522-4180
2 Nationwide Plaza, Suite 1400, Columbus, OH 43215-2592; (614) 469-6860
OKLAHOMA: Federal Building, Suite 670, 200 N.W. 5th Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73102; (405) 231-4301
OREGON: 222 South West Columbia, Suite 500, Portland, OR 97201-6605; (503) 326-2682
PENNSYLVANIA: 475 Allendale Road, Suite 201, King of Prussia, PA 19406; (215) 962-3804
960 Penn Avenue, 5th Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15222; (412) 644-2780
PUERTO RICO: Citibank Towers, Plaza Level, 252 Ponce de Leon Avenue, Hato Rey, PR 00918; (809) 766-5572
RHODE ISLAND: 380 Westminster Mall, 5th Floor, Providence, RI 02903; (401) 528-4561
SOUTH CAROLINA: 1835 Assembly Street, Room 358, Columbia, SC 29201; (803) 765-5376
SOUTH DAKOTA: First Financial Center, 110 South Phillips, Suite 200, Sioux Falls, SD 57102; (605) 330-4231
TENNESSEE: 50 Vantage Way, Suite 201, Nashville, TN 37228-1500; (615) 736-5881
TEXAS: 10737 Gateway West, Suite 320, El Paso, TX 79935; (915) 540-5676
4300 Amon Carter Boulevard, Suite 114, Ft. Worth, TX 76155; (817) 885-6503
222 East Van Buren, Suite 500, Harlingen, TX 78550; (210) 427-8533
9301 Southwest Freeway, Suite 550, Houston, TX 77074-1591; (713) 773-6500
1611 10th Street, Suite 200, Lubbock, TX 79401; (806) 743-7462
North Star Executive Center, 7400 Blanco Road, Suite 200, San Antonio, TX 78216-4300; (512) 229-4353
UTAH: 125 South State Street, Room 2237, Salt Lake City, UT 84138-1195; (801) 524-5804
VERMONT: 87 State Street, Room 205, Montpelier, VT 05602; (802) 828-4422
VIRGINIA: Federal Building, Room 3015, 400 North Eighth Street, Richmond, VA 23240; (804) 771-2400, ext. 122
WASHINGTON: Federal Building, Room 1792, 915 Second Avenue, Seattle, WA 98174-1088; (206) 220-6523
West 601 First Avenue, Spokane, WA 99204-0317; (509) 353-2800
WEST VIRGINIA: 168 West Main Street, 5th Floor, Clarksburg, WV 26301; (304) 623-5631
WISCONSIN: 212 East Washington Avenue, Room 213, Madison, WI 53703; (608) 264-5542
WYOMING: 100 East B Street, Room 4001, Casper, WY 82602-2839; (307) 261-5761
U.S. EXPORT ASSISTANCE CENTERS
U.S. Export Assistance Centers (EACs) offer, under one roof, the services and programs of SBA, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Export-Import Bank of the United States, as well as other public/private trade partners. Four initial EAC sites opened in winter 1994.
BALTIMORE: World Trade Center, 401 East Pratt Street, Suite 2432, Baltimore, MD 21202; (410) 962-4539
CHICAGO: Xerox Center, 55 West Monroe Street, Suite 2440, Chicago, IL 60603; (312) 353-8040
LOS ANGELES: One World Trade Center, Suite 1670, Long Beach, CA 90831; (310) 980-4550
MIAMI: Trade Port Building, 5600 Northwest 36th Street, 6th Floor, Miami, FL 33166; (305) 526-7425
This publication is the product of a public/private sector initiative between the U.S. Small Business Administration and AT&T. In events of this nature, views and opinions that are not necessarily those of the co-sponsors may be expressed. SBA’s cooperation does not constitute or imply endorsement of any opinions, products and/or services. All SBA programs are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis.