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SBA financing available to finance exports

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U.S. businesses are finding themselves increasingly thrust into a global economy. The advent of the internet and advancements in transportation technologies have helped to effectively eliminate national borders and shrink the world down to a smaller size. Small businesses are no exception to this rule.

Though small businesses have historically served their local communities, many are realizing the opportunities offered in the international marketplace. Still others find it necessary to embrace a global view of business in order to survive.

However, it is often difficult for a small business to begin the process of going global. This is where the SBA’s Office of International Trade can help. The Office of International Trade offers value-added services which can help level the playing field with other larger businesses on the international scene. One such program offered through the SBA’s Office of International Trade is SBA ExportExpress. Combining the SBA’s lending assistance with customized technical assistance, the SBA’s ExportExpress program is designed to meet various financial needs of small business exporters.

ExportExpress loan proceeds can be used for many of the exporting business needs including participation in a trade show, the translation of product brochures or catalogues for use in overseas markets, general lines of credit for export purposes, and transaction-specific needs associated with completing actual export orders. Additionally, small businesses can use the program to purchase real estate and equipment to be used in production of goods or services which will be exported.

ExportExpress loans work like any other loan and are actually delivered by your local lender. The only difference to an ExportExpress loan is that the SBA assumes a large portion of the loan’s risk, giving local lenders an incentive to take on a loan they otherwise might have passed over. The ExportExpress loan carries an 85 percent repayment guarantee by the SBA on loans up to $150,000 and 75 percent on loans exceeding $150,000. The maximum loan offered in the program is $250,000.

The loans offer the competitive rates and terms small businesses need to compete globally. There are several thousand lenders across the U.S. who participate in the program, and likely one in your community.

In order to qualify for the program, your company must have been in business operation, though not necessarily in the business of exporting, for at least 12 months at the time you apply for the loan.

The SBA’s Office of International Trade also offers a variety of technical assistance alternatives for businesses interested in exporting, including an online guide to exporting. Visit the Office Of International Trade’s Web site at www.sba.gov/oit/info/Guide-To-Exporting/index.html for more information. Small Business Success

There comes a time in the life of a small business when it simply needs assistance and guidance from someone who has “been there and done that.” SCORE, the counselors to America’s small businesses, is an organization comprised of such seasoned and experienced individuals --some retired and some who are still active in the work force -- who volunteer their time and efforts to share their experiences and secrets of success with people who want to start or expand a business.

One local couple, Edna and Alfredo Jaime, consider themselves fortunate to have found a gem of a mentor in La Jolla resident Elias Sheinberg, a retired businessman from Mexico who made a fortune, lost it, and made it back again through a number of ventures in the manufacturing and retail sectors. Sheinberg has been a SCORE counselor for many years and has provided invaluable guidance to those who have made the monumental decision to set out on their own in pursuit of a lifelong dream of owning a business.

Before the couple met Sheinberg by way of their local Chamber of Commerce, Alfredo worked as a construction supervisor for a San Diego drywall company. With Sheinberg’s support and encouragement, Alfredo began taking classes at night to obtain his general contractor’s license while continuing to work his day job. After eight months of marathon16-hour days, he completed the course, passed his test and became one of the youngest licensed general contractors in San Diego.

Shortly afterward, Alfredo and Edna opened their own business in Chula Vista, Jaime Construction Inc., which specializes in restaurant remodeling. During the latter part of 2004, Jaime Construction Inc. remodeled six restaurants and a real estate office building, resulting in gross sales of $1.2 million. They acknowledge they couldn’t have made the transition successfully from employees to employers without Sheinberg’s diligent assistance and good natured approach. He helped them incorporate and navigate the waters of bureaucracy, showed them how to successfully market their business, assisted them with staffing and human resource issues, and facilitated networking opportunities with other SCORE clients to generate additional business and referrals.

Among the most valuable of lessons the Jaimes learned from Sheinberg about owning and operating a business is the importance of communication, honesty and more communication. Those are the keys that allowed them to open the doors to opportunity and success in their first year of operations. And now that Sheinberg’s coaching has given them a firm grasp on running their own business, they are reaping the rewards in terms of newfound independence and the addition of quality time spent with their family.

“We like the fact that we both have more responsibility and the opportunity to choose our own clients,” said Edna. “We make a great team and we feel blessed that we have the chance to work for ourselves because it gives us the flexibility and freedom to set our own schedules. That allows us to spend more quality time with our family.”

Sheinberg is proud of his volunteer work with SCORE and the positive effect it can have on people’s lives.

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