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Expanding a successful program for small businesses

In 2012, OPIC will expand its popular Expanding Horizons event for small businesses, hosting seminars and workshops in multiple cities around the U.S. to help educate small businesses about the benefits of entering emerging markets abroad, and the ways that OPIC’s finance and political risk insurance products can help.

OPIC has hosted Expanding Horizons around the country for the past six years. More than 1,300 small businesses from 39 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have attended. Last years workshops in Orange County, Calif. and Miami drew record attendance.

By hosting workshops around the country, OPIC hopes to connect with small businesses that may not know about the various government programs available to them. Over the past decade OPIC has focused its outreach efforts on small businesses and today, small businesses make up the majority of its client base.

The Expanding Horizons events are organized by Dr. Lawrence Spinelli, OPIC’s director of public affairs, who says that businesses who attend the workshops often are interested in learning more about how they can obtain a loan to support their overseas expansion. “The credit crunch is a very real challenge for businesses and OPIC is here to help them,” Spinelli said.

Despite today’s challenging economic environment, businesses often find that expanding into emerging markets can help them weather the downturn. At one of last year’s Expanding Horizons events, one California entrepreneur described how he responded to the recession by expanding abroad.

“It is necessary for all small businesses to start looking at the world as a smaller place,” said Ricardo Tejada, Founder and Managing Director of Vnesto Capital, who delivered the keynote address at last year’s Expanding Horizons workshop in Orange County, California.

Another speaker at that event, Jeff Williamson, the Statewide Director for the Center for International Trade Development, and that while many U.S. small businesses have already expanding globally, far more could do so.

“We have to change our perspective of where our next customers are coming from,” said Williamson. “We have to venture out and find our next customers in these high-growth areas like Africa, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe.”

See the 2012 Expanding Horizons schedule and register.

Picture of Dr. Lawrence Spinelli, OPIC Director of Public Affairs                

In this video from the 2011 workshop in Orange County, Calif., Dr.  Lawrence Spinelli, OPIC Director of Public Affairs, details the agency’s work with the small business community.

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