Here G. Nancy Allen interviews Toya Woods of Export-Import Bank of the United States. Listen in as they discuss going global with the help of EXIM’s programs.
Transcript of the interview follows…
Nancy: What is Exim bank?
Toya: If you were exporting and you are doing business globally, meaning you are exporting a product or service, you can qualify for financial assistance from Exim Bank. And we do that through our export credit insurance policy as well as our working capital loans product
Nancy: And now how can women who own businesses take advantage of all these from Exim bank’s assistance?
Toya: So Nancy we like to think that we’re not only a have benefits for women businesses, we’re a benefit for all businesses .in particular Exim bank has a strong focus on the companies that are owned by women.
We have a special unit within Exim Bank and their sole focus is to assist companies, to assist minorities and women owned businesses called the MWOBC for short, and what that consists of is a group of individuals who include myself, who travel throughout the United states attending different conferences and doing what we call the Exim webinars and speaking on panels and just participating in different outreach activities to educate these companies on Exim Bank’s programs. Not just educating on Exim Bank Nancy but just giving guidance on doing business internationally as a whole.
So often companies come to Exim bank seeking financial assistance and they may not be quite ready yet. In those cases we then direct the companies to the proper agencies and resources that can help them and get them to the point where they can qualify for Exim bank’s financing, so those are the kind of benefits that we provide to these companies whether you are minority or a woman or a veteran owned company. We want to make sure that you have the proper tools to compete and be successful in the overseas market.
Nancy: Wonderful! Thank you, I mean it’s great to hear that there are institutions that credit and facilitate you also to provide credible educational resources [True] as you mentioned this unit assists women business owners in utilizing Exim Bank programs, would you explain your programs?
Toya: Sure so I’ll start with our export credit insurance policy and what it is, Nancy, is a policy to protect exporters against non-payment from a foreign buyer. If you were exporting and you were offering that buyer your terms and if that buyer defaults on those terms, you will be protected under the policy. I like to tell companies to think of it as homeowners insurance or your car insurance, when you have it just in case something happens, you can be covered from your loss. And not only is it a form of protection against non-payment but it can also be used as a marketing tool to attract new buyers because you are offering terms. Buyers love terms, it gives them a chance to receive the product, sell the product and potentially pay the exporter from the proceeds of that product. So the policy is not only a benefit to the exporter but it’s a benefit to the buyer as well.
Next we have our working capital guarantee program and it works a little different Nancy, from the policies. With this, Exim bank guarantees the commercial bank on the exporter’s behalf that they will repay their loan. If you are exporting and you have a purchase order or a contract from a foreign buyer, you can qualify for Exim Bank’s guarantee program.
We all know how challenging it can be for companies to receive a loan from the commercial bank, but when you have the Exim Bank’s guarantee backing you, lenders are a little more receptive to giving companies loans . These funds can be used for labor such as supplies materials, anything related to the export portion of your company.
Also, we have a list of delegated lenders that we work with and it’s listed on our website, www.exim.gov and there are our lists of commercial lenders that we work with to assist on this and helping them receive a loan. That basically is how the program works; the export credit insurance policies is to insure nonpayment against foreign buyers and the working capital guarantee is money so exporters can continue to build and do business.
Nancy: wonderful, those sound like two really great resources. Toya, can you give us some examples of companies that have benefitted from Exim Bank’s program?
Toya: Sure, from several companies that have benefitted from Exim Bank’s financial assistance, one particular company that comes to mind is a company called Auburn Leather. They are a women owned company, they make pretty good leather shoe laces. They came to Exim Bank because they wanted to offer a buyer that they had in Mexico terms as well as attract new buyers so they applied for the policy and they received a policy. I believe through the policy they had an increase in demand for their product. To ensure that they could continue to build their product and do business, they applied for the working capital guarantee program as well and Nancy a lot of time this is what has been happening for these companies.
As I said earlier, buyers they love to be awkward if you don’t have plans to pay on credit or terms if you will, they are business people, they talk to one another and they seek each other’s advice on business with emerging companies and so when you have an emerging company that can offer them terms then they spread word. So as a result of these companies using Exim Bank’s program, they have increased their export sales from $1M to $20M in just two years. And they are now in business in over 45 countries and most importantly Nancy, they have added 20 new jobs to increase in their personnel. And Nancy, that’s what it’s all about, Exim Bank’s main mission, is to create jobs here in the US by increasing export sales, and that’s what we’re here to do.
Nancy: That is a really wonderful example of a great success story. I’m sure that the people listening to this interview will be greatly inspired by that. Toya, can I ask you about how long you work with someone? This person who you just mentioned, Auburn Leather, can you give me an idea of how long you worked with them to get to a point where they were able to increase their sales from $1M to $20M in that two year period
Toya:Well we work with the companies continuously so after they receive our products we don’t drop them, they continue to apply for the program.
I want to touch on this a bit Nancy on indirect exports. Over the years from reaching out to different companies, different minority and women and businesses as well, I find that a lot of these companies are supplying larger corporations and these larger corporations are selling their products overseas. The smaller corporations may not know, they are not even aware of it and that qualifies as an indirect export in Exim Bank’s eyes. And so let me give you an example of indirect export. So if you are a company and you make vehicle tyres and you are selling them to Ford or GM or even Nissan, the American company, on the American side and they are taking those tyres and putting them on cars and exporting those cars, selling those cars overseas, that can qualify a company for a working capital guarantee program because it is indirect export. I like to tell companies to find out, if you are a supplier, for a larger corporation, find out what they’re doing with your product, versus just selling to them. Find out the end use of that product because you could be selling, exporting and you don’t even know it. That’s what I would say that I make companies aware of.
And also Nancy a lot of companies think that they are out of the business for exporting because of the type of business that they are in and that’s simply not true. We support a variety of industries here at Exim Bank; you’d be surprised at the things that can be exported. I’ve seen things being exported such as used books, used clothes, seafood, we even have a farmer that exports bull semen from their farm, how far? I have no idea but it there’s no limit to what can be exported, even with services, if you can provide IT services, you can provide a consulting service even transportation service, there is no limit to what can be exported.
Nancy: That’s just great news! Music to my ears because a lot of our members are women business owners saying “oh you know I’m based in just the USA there’s no way I’d consider going global because I can’t afford it,” though we’ve kind of enjoyed the programs and the resources that Exim Bank has to speak to that as a fear or a challenge. And now to hear that a variety of high tech services that you provide not only to people who have products that they are selling but also to those service providers. I think a lot people think that they can’t consider a service in the global realm, I’m really glad you made that point.
Toya: Yes we have companies that export their services all the time, especially with the IT services companies overseas sometimes are interested in data packages and the things that we do, even infrastructure on projects that they have building a project overseas. There are a lot of services that can be considered as an export and I know I’ve given a lot of information Nancy and I’ve been a little overwhelming and a little bit intimidating but Exim Bank we’re here to take the fear out of exporting. My colleagues and I we’re ready and we’re waiting to assist any company and talking them through and making sure as I said earlier that they have everything that they need so they can stand up and be successful in the overseas markets
Nancy:Wonderful, thank you so much for you have done just that and I’m sure there are people listening now have a little less fear because they know they have a good resource with the Exim Bank so thank you so much for all you do. Thank you so much for sharing with us this information, so we’ll repeat that the website is www.exim.gov and thank you again Toya, it’s a pleasure speaking with you and learning about all these wonderful resources.
Toya:Thank you, Nancy, and the pleasure is all mine!