The Small Business Administration (SBA) and Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) offer programs designed to help companies countrywide, including financing to support export working capital. Many companies think that they are too small to compete in the world market, but 97% of all exporters are, in fact, small businesses.
The programs provided by the SBA and Ex-Im Bank can help exporters extend the reach of their businesses to support job creation and improve U.S. economic growth. These organizations provide guaranties to Zions Bank, which in turn makes working capital loans to companies to help them purchase or manufacture goods and services for export. In 2010, President Obama announced the National Export Initiative with the goal of doubling exports in five years. The SBA and Ex-Im Bank programs help provide a means to attain that end.
Under a new initiative, several federal agencies are collaborating to combine their trade financing programs and export marketing services into a one-stop platform, called US Global Business Solutions (USGBS) to assess and meet the needs of small business exporters. Its goal is to reduce complexity, simplify marketing materials and streamline access to international markets. Some of the specific programs it offers in the area of working capital loans include:
- Export Express - an SBA guaranteed loan that finances export development activities (such as participation in international trade shows or literature translation), export purchase orders, stand-by letters of credit for performance/bid bonds, and the purchase of equipment and real estate up to $500,000.
- Global Credit Express - an Ex-Im Bank guaranteed loan that provides short-term, pre-export working capital loans of up to $500,000 to support exporting in general rather than specific export transactions, as well as streamlined processing and quick turnaround on loan applications.
- Export Working Capital Guarantee - an SBA loan that provides up to $5 million in financing for export purchase orders, inventory, foreign accounts receivable and Standby Letters of Credit for performance/bid bonds. It can fund export transactions beginning with the purchase order through to final payment collection.
- CAPlines - for SBA loans that provides lines of credit up to $5 million to support domestic and foreign accounts receivable and inventory purchases and may be used to refinance short-term and revolving debt.
In June, Zions Bank entered into a collaboration agreement with the SBA and Ex-Im Bank through the USGBS. The purpose of these agreements is to assist lenders in providing trade and investment programs for small business customers.
The USGBS provides an international company profile service that includes quick, low-cost credit checks and due-diligence reports on buyers and distributors in more than 80 countries. Through the collaboration, Zions Bank business clients can be assisted in determining which companies around the world to establish trade relationships with. In addition, the USGBS through the U.S. Commercial Service offers the Gold Key Matching Service to help find potential overseas agents, distributors, sales representatives and business partners by arranging one-on-one appointments with prescreened business contacts in the targeted export market. The USGBS through the U.S. Commercial Service also offers an International Partner Search service, which puts trade specialists in countries throughout the world to work finding the most suitable strategic partners for US exporters. Exporters provide marketing materials and background on their companies. Trade specialists then use a network of international contacts to interview potential partners and provide a list of up to five prequalified partners.
Zions Bank is a Preferred Lender Provider for the SBA and a Delegated Authority Lender for the Ex-Im Bank. These designations authorize Zions to make credit decisions independently, locally and quickly. Zions Bank is currently one of the most active banks in the country in these programs and received the 'Bank of the Year' award for its role in assisting businesses with export financing. Zions also has a dedicated SBA department managed by Cece Mitchell. The department's goal is to offer and promote export lending assistance. Zions is actively participating in programs, such as those under the USGBS, to provide several resources for its business clients as they expand their reach around the world.