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October is National Women’s Small Business Month
October 28, 2020 Office of Communications and Office of Small Business

The Small Business Administration (SBA) estimates that there are over 30 million small businesses in the United States, employing almost 60 million people. Women business owners play a leading role in the economy of the United States. According to

  • Women own 42 percent of businesses in the United States.
  • Women-owned businesses generate $1.9 trillion annually.
  • Women of color account for half of female business owners.

One minority-and woman-owned company is helping us find peace of mind during these turbulent times.

AcousticSheep LLC, a minority- and woman-owned small business in Erie, Pennsylvania, manufactures headphones designed for sleeping and running, and was named an Exporter of the Year by the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM).

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 SBA has named Dr. Lai as Pennsylvania Small Business Person of the Year.

As AcousticSheep grew, the company began selling its products internationally, but experienced difficulty when customers defaulted on payments. In 2017, AcousticSheep began using EXIM’s Export Credit Insurance for protection against the risk of nonpayment. EXIM’s insurance enabled the company to continue increasing exports in its original markets and expand into two new countries. Now, exporting accounts for about 25 percent of sales and sustains local jobs. Since 2014, EXIM has supported exports valued at nearly $150,000 to New Zealand, Canada, and Australia. The company’s policies are 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, Acoustic Sheep’s CEO. “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.”

U.S. companies, particularly small businesses, can utilize EXIM’s financing tools and resources to increase their international sales, showcase their “Made in the USA” products, and sustain American jobs. By partnering with EXIM, exporters can mitigate the risk of nonpayment on international sales, offer credit terms to foreign buyers, and access working capital loan guarantees. In addition, EXIM has implemented several COVID-19 (coronavirus) relief measures for U.S. exporters and financial institutions to enhance the agency’s existing programs.

Join the thousands of U.S. businesses that are thriving through exporting. Contact your local EXIM representative for a free consultation today.

EXIM’s Blog postings are intended to highlight various facets of exporting, but the postings are not legal advice, and are not intended to summarize all legal requirements associated with exporting.