EXIM’s mission is to support American jobs by facilitating the export of U.S. goods and services. In recognition of International Women’s Day, we highlight the experiences of two woman-owned small businesses who reached new levels of success through exporting.
“International Women’s Day provides an opportunity for us at EXIM to highlight the achievement of women and lend our support to address the diverse challenges women face every day,” said EXIM Board Member Judith D. Pryor. “In keeping with this year’s theme — choose to challenge — we can choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality, and we can choose to seek out and celebrate women's achievements. By taking those actions, we can help create an inclusive world.
“That’s why we’re choosing to celebrate the accomplishments of two women-owned businesses who’ve leveraged EXIM support to grow their businesses, provide jobs, and achieve success.”
In 2007, Dr. Wei-Shin Lai, a family physician, and her husband, Jason Wolfe, a video game developer, founded AcousticSheep, growing the small business from a kitchen-table operation into an award-winning company with 25 employees. When Dr. Lai had trouble falling asleep at night, she invented the product she needed and launched a successful business that has increased sales every year.
The Consumer Technology Association has honored AcousticSheep as the Small Business of the Year, and the Small Business Administration has named Dr. Lai as Pennsylvania Small Business Person of the Year. In 2020, EXIM named AcousticSheep an Exporter of the Year. The company’s export credit insurance is facilitated by EXIM broker Meridian Finance Group, a Texel Company, headquartered in Los Angeles, with offices nationwide.
“EXIM has given us the confidence to work with new distributors in more risky countries as well as expand our sales to existing distributors, giving them more credit — and increased sales — over time,” said Dr. Lai. “We used to worry about doing enough due diligence on international partners or asking them to pay up front. Now, we are still careful, but we know that EXIM has our back if anything goes wrong.”
Navigating to Export Success
Dr. Sonat Birnecker, owner of KOVAL Distillery, a 24-person company in Chicago, successfully navigated her company through many paths to achieve profitable revenue and brand awareness within international markets. Today, the company exports to 40 countries, and almost 30 percent of the company’s revenue are generated from export sales. The company’s export credit insurance is facilitated by EXIM broker Trade Acceptance Group, Ltd., of Edina, Minnesota.
“EXIM Bank has been instrumental in providing us with the security and leverage to make business arrangements that help us grow our company abroad,” said Dr. Birnecker. “Furthermore, our relationship with EXIM Bank has helped us get paid by distributors that were delinquent by merely reminding them that we work with EXIM.”
Want to learn more about EXIM resources for small businesses? Download the Guide to Export Credit Insurance and call your local EXIM representative today!