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Export-Import Bank

Definition: An independent bank established by Congress that finances or insures foreign purchases of U.S. goods for customers unable or unwilling to accept credit risk.

If exporting is part of your business game plan, the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) can be your biggest ally. The Ex-Im Bank is committed to supporting small exporters and provides many financing tools targeted to small businesses, such as working capital guarantees and export credit insurance. It also guarantees repayment of loans or makes loans to foreign purchasers of U.S. goods and services and offers U.S. exporters credit insurance to protect against nonpayment by foreign buyers. Since 1934, the Ex-Im Bank has helped finance overseas sales of more than $300 billion in U.S. goods and services.

With a working capital guarantee and credit insurance, small businesses can increase sales by entering new markets, expanding their borrowing base, and offering buyers financing while carrying less risk. Often, small exporters don't have adequate cash flow or can't get a loan to fulfill an export sales order. The Ex-Im Bank working capital guarantee assumes 90 percent of the lender's risk so exporters can access the necessary funds to purchase raw materials or supplies to fulfill an export order.

The export credit insurance protects an exporter from buyer payment default and also allows exporters to extend credit to their international buyers.

To be eligible for the Ex-Im Bank's programs, U.S. exporters much simply meet the SBA's definition of a small business and have export credit sales of less than $5 million. In addition, your product or service must have at least 50 percent U.S. content. The bank will finance the export of all types of goods or services except for most military-related products.

Business owners can contact the Ex-Im Bank directly at (800) 565-3946 or through any commercial lender that works with the agency (see the Lender Locator at Based in Washington, DC, the Ex-Im Bank also has regional offices in Chicago, Houston, Miami, New York City, and Long Beach and San Jose, California.

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