Throughout Women’s History Month, the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) has underscored how small businesses owned by women can leverage EXIM’s financial tools and resources to confidently export their goods and services worldwide.
Earlier this month, in recognition of International Women’s Day, EXIM highlighted the experiences of two women-owned small businesses who reached new levels of success through exporting. That was followed by a virtual event sponsored by EXIM’s Office of Minority and Women-Owned Business (MWOB) featuring leaders of top women’s business organizations along with successful women-owned business exporters who shared tips and resources to empower female business owners to successfully export their American-made products.
Providing the Keys to International Opportunity
In her opening remarks, EXIM Board Member Judith D. Pryor pointed out that in a 2019 report, American Express found more than 40 percent of all U.S. businesses — nearly 13 million companies — are women-owned. But only about 15 percent of U.S. businesses participating in the export market are owned by women.
“Here’s the good news,” she said. “We know that 95 percent of global consumers live outside the U.S. We also know that U.S. companies who export grow faster and are less likely to go out of business than those who don’t. And we know that workers in export-intensive industries earn more than their peers who are working in less export-intensive industries."
Director Pryor underscored how EXIM’s MWOB staff can provide expert guidance and financing tools to help historically underserved business owners capitalize on those opportunities.
Since 2011, nearly 1,000 companies owned by women have used EXIM products and services to export to 150 countries. In the most recent fiscal year, FY20, EXIM authorized more than $335 million in financing for businesses owned by minorities and women.
Women Business Owners Sharing their Success
To illustrate how EXIM can help women-owned businesses achieve greater success, Director Pryor cited the example of Sweet Manufacturing Company of Springfield, Ohio, a leading maker of bulk material handling, conveying, and processing equipment.
“Sweet Manufacturing considers EXIM support a ‘must-have’ in order to maintain their global presence,” she said. “With the support of EXIM, Sweet’s export sales have increased from 22 to 55 percent of their total sales — and their equipment is now sold in 55 countries. Last year alone, EXIM coverage provided support for over $1.3 million in Sweet Manufacturing exports.”
In addition, the women at the helm of three companies currently using EXIM export credit insurance to support their international sales discussed their experience during a panel discussion moderated by Nicole Woods, EXIM business development specialist and client care manager. The panel featured:
- Taliah Waajid, owner and CEO at Taliah Waajid Brand, which manufactures haircare and other grooming products in Atlanta, Georgia.
- Angie Yu, founder and president of Two Rivers Fisheries, a fish processing company in Wickliffe, Kentucky.
- Maday Labrador, owner and president of Global Health Naturals Nutritional Supplements, which manufactures dietary supplements in Sarasota, Florida.
Partners Advocating for Women in Business
EXIM highlighted other organizations that have additional resources to assist women-owned businesses at the state and federal levels. Tamara Maxwell, EXIM vice president of the Minority and Women-Owned Business Outreach Division, moderated a fireside chat with women’s business advocates from the public and private sectors, including:
- Natalie Cofield, assistant administrator, Office of Women’s Business Ownership, Small Business Administration (SBA).
- Elizabeth Vazquez, CEO and co-founder, WEConnect International.
- Jetheda Hernandez, program manager, Enterprising Women of Color (EWOC), Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA).
- Camelia Mazard, president, Organization of Women in International Trade.
“We at EXIM are a catalyst to make sure women-owned businesses are protected financially and have the resources to do business internationally,” said Maxwell. “When you connect with EXIM, we not only equip you with export financing, but we also connect you with a plethora of other government and private agencies that can get you to the next level.”
Hazeen Ashby, EXIM senior vice president for the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, urged small businesses owned by women and minorities to utilize the resources offered by EXIM.
“We believe in the power of women-owned businesses,” said Ashby. “Minority-owned businesses and women-owned businesses are the true engine of job creation in our communities. We encourage them to reach out to EXIM, as well as other government agencies and private partners, to make sure small businesses have the resources they need to not only survive this current economic downtown but also to thrive.”
If you’re ready to take your business to the next level, schedule a free consultation with an EXIM trade finance specialist to learn more.