January 17, 2017 (400 days ago)
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Using Digital to Reach More Small Business Exporters
By James Burrows, Senior Vice President, Export-Import Bank of the United States

In today’s economy, access to global markets is essential for small- and medium-size enterprises. Businesses are increasingly spreading their risks across regions and unlocking flexibility to capture demand as economic conditions shift. The Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) equips American exporters with the protection and liquidity to enter new markets and diversify their portfolio of customers. When U.S. companies, or their customers, are unable to access export financing from the private sector, EXIM fills the gap by furnishing American businesses with the tools necessary to compete for global sales.

At EXIM, we recognize small businesses form the bedrock of the American economy. In fact, according to the Small Business Administration, small businesses create two out of three net, new private-sector jobs in the United States and employ half of the domestic workforce. Therefore, small businesses are critical to what EXIM does. As the information journey for businesspeople has evolved, so has EXIM’s outreach. Over the past 3 years, we’ve forged a significant digital presence to educate small American businesses and connect exporters and exporters-to-be with on-the-ground support and expertise.

We do this by offering digestible digital content covering the fundamentals of trade finance and EXIM support. This content primarily assumes the form of e-books, “How It Works” videos, checklists, and so on. We host Webinars for industry- and geo-specific audiences. We are active on social media, where we have increased our follower base by 116 percent over the past 2 years. By reaching a broader audience and making trade finance more accessible, interactive, and understandable, we can better support the international growth of American small businesses and connect them with the appropriate solution, whether from EXIM or the private sector.

Throughout our digital interactions with American exporters, we’ve also made available clearer paths to consultations with EXIM experts. Accessing government support should be easy. We’re striving to be as available, responsive, and helpful as possible to the small business community. Our local EXIM specialists promptly respond to online requests for export consultations. More than 100 of our new small business customers in 2016 first connected with our team digitally.

We’ve ramped up digital outreach to multiplier networks, such as economic development organizations, partner agencies, chambers of commerce, lenders and brokers, all of which are often critical steps in an exporter’s path to support. The better we serve the community that interacts with our end user, the more we can grow American exports. To that end, we’ve created a “Digital Toolkit” (http://grow to equip these entities with illustrative trade finance content.

Even in the digital age, small businesses need on-theground, face-to-face support available in their backyard. Our 12 regional offices, strategically located throughout the country, are dedicated to providing that support and education exclusively to small businesses at no cost. That is why we at EXIM are working every day, on the ground and online, to start conversations with small businesses about boosting that job growth and prosperity. To obtain a free trade finance consultation, register at http://grow.exim .gov/contact-a-trade-finance-specialist.
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