Project profile: Mexican food project in Russia fuels sales of American-made equipment
American entrepreneurs build a Mexican food business in Russia using an OPIC loan to fund its expansion, ultimately driving sales of equipment from a supplier in southern California. That’s the short story behind ZAO Solntse Mexico, a 2007 OPIC loan recipient, which was so successful introducing Mexican food products to Russia that it generated $9 million in revenues in 2010. Recently, ZAO Solntse was acquired by Mission Foods, a publicly-traded company based in Irving, Texas.
ZAO Solntse Mexico is also emblematic of the growing international nature of all business, including small business. OPIC is increasingly focused on working with small and medium businesses, providing financing and support to help them build international businesses. Like ZAO Solntse, which spent a large portion of its $1.5 million loan on tortilla-making equipment manufactured in the U.S., the expansion of small businesses overseas often drives demand for American-made equipment. In fact, at a time when 95 percent of consumers are located outside of the U.S., many in developing nations seeing rapid growth, small businesses are increasingly recognizing the critical role of exports in driving overall sales.
“The OPIC loan provided a long-term financing to a growing business that had limited workable debt financing options,” said ZAO Solntse General Director Steven Brown. “However, the main benefit of working with OPIC was not in the money but in forcing discipline on our company to upgrade our management structures to meet OPIC standards. We were a well-run business beforehand, but being involved with OPIC was extra reason to take the extra step and get fully GAAP audited. Being part of the OPIC team made discussions with interested buyers much easier, as OPIC standards are known to be extremely rigorous. In short the OPIC ‘stamp of approval’ gave buyers the confidence that we were a company with whom they could do business.”