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EXIM Provides Resources for Women-Owned Businesses
March 26, 2024 Jane Lemons, Business Development Specialist

With women owning more than one in five U.S. businesses, the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) proudly offers trade finance tools to support these entrepreneurs as they boost the U.S. economy and create American jobs.

In 2021, there were 1.3 million women-owned businesses across all sectors of the U.S. economy — accounting for 22 percent of U.S. businesses, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Those firms led by women employed 10.5 million Americans and generated $2.1 trillion in annual receipts.

Providing Specialized Support for Small Businesses

To help women-owned companies grow their revenues and expand their international sales, EXIM provides numerous resources, including Export Credit Insurance and Working Capital Loan Guarantees, so they can compete successfully in the global marketplace.

EXIM's Minority and Women Owned Business Division (MWOB) provides specialized support, working to spread the word to underserved communities about EXIM financing. The MWOB team works closely with organizations that have a minority trade focus to create opportunities for U.S. companies that are owned by women, minorities, veterans, people with disabilities, and the LGBTQ+ community along with startup businesses and those located in rural areas. 

"Here at the Export-Import Bank of the United States, we pay tribute to all American women — who have long been at the forefront when it comes to advancing business, innovation, and advocacy for greater equity and access," said EXIM Chair Reta Jo Lewis.

EXIM President and Chair Reta Jo Lewis celebrates Women's History Month. You also can view her message here.

Ensuring a Place at the Table

In addition, the Council on Advancing Women in Business advises EXIM about how to reach more women business leaders and owners and better consider equity goals set in the agency’s strategy.

There are numerous  opportunities for women business owners to expand into international trade, said Lezlee Westine, President & CEO of the Personal Care Products Council, who serves as the co-chair of the Council on Advancing Women in Business.

"It's very well known that over one in five small businesses are owned by women. Over five million businesses are owned by women of color," she said. "And yet there is a gap — a financial gap of opportunities. That's something that we are focusing in on — building partnerships, building collaborations, working with the Export-Import Bank so that we can give these  small businesses, these women, and these minorities more opportunity for economic growth."

Lisa Phillip, Executive Director of the Houston Minority Business Development Agency Export Center, also serves on the council. Citing her experience as an exporter in her own small business, she underscored the importance of providing resources for underserved communities.

"We need to know that there are other ways to do business, and other industries to enter, to increase your revenue," she said. "Building capacity is what we need to do for the minority and women owned community. It helps the economy; it helps the global economy. We all need a place at the table to learn how to do business in areas or industries that you know nothing about."

Women Exporters Find Global Success

BNutty: Indiana soccer moms Joy Thompkins  and Carol Podolak grew their successful company, BNutty, from a school fundraiser into an international business. When the gourmet peanut butter company's popularity attracted attention from buyers in other countries, they recognized the opportunity but realized they were unprepared for global sales. So they turned to EXIM's Export Credit Insurance, which allowed them to offer credit terms and expand their growing business into new markets around the world.

"EXIM took the time to point out things that other customers or small business owners encountered that could lead to an expensive mistake, and we were able to take those lessons that other companies learned the hard way and avoid a lot of that," said Thompkins and Podolak.

Two Rivers Fisheries: Angie Yu founded her Kentucky company specifically to process and export fish from the Mississippi River and nearby tributaries – turning an environmental problem into an exporting opportunity. With EXIM support, Two Rivers Fisheries has become the largest U.S. exporter of Asian carp, shipping its products to a dozen countries and creating new markets for local fishermen.

"When I learned about EXIM’s export credit insurance, I knew it could help me a lot,” she said. “This gave me the confidence to keep working with new larger companies and enter new markets. If I ever had a problem with nonpayment, EXIM was there to help me out."

Womens Silhouettes of two women's faces with the words "March Is Women's History Month" with a row of images of suffragists holding "vote" signs at the bottom.

EXIM is committed to prioritizing equity and providing resources to support U.S. small businesses, including those owned by women. To find out how EXIM can help your business compete in the global marketplace in 2023 and beyond, schedule a free consultation with a trade finance specialist and launch your export journey today.

Get a Free Export Finance 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.