How OPIC supports American small businesses from coast to coast
When OPIC kicks off its 2016 Expanding Horizons workshop series May 3 in Atlanta, it will mark the tenth anniversary of the program, which has traveled to New York, Miami, Seattle, Los Angeles and many more U.S. cities to educate American small businesses about the benefits of expanding into emerging markets.
OPIC understands that small businesses can make important contributions to global development and that their participation in emerging markets can help them gain access to new markets. Today, well over half of the projects OPIC commits each year involve a small or medium U.S. enterprise.
But what sort of small businesses are best suited to partner with OPIC to address development challenges in emerging markets? A look at some of OPIC’s partners show the range of small businesses we’ve supported in sectors from agriculture to energy, operating in places from Latin America to Sub-Saharan Africa to Iraq.
California juice processor builds processing facility in the rainforest One OPIC partner that really illustrates how American businesses can benefit by supporting development is Sambazon Inc. of San Clemente California. The business, which was formed after two friends learned about the nutritional benefits of the açaí berry during a surfing trip to Brazil, used OPIC financing to build an environmentally sustainable berry processing facility in the Brazilian rainforest.
Today, the project generates income for more than 10,000 local family farmers, while also helping Sambazon expand its U.S. business. Sambazon likes to say that the project has helped “make the rainforest too valuable to cut down.” Learn more
Maryland manufacturer sells equipment in Iraq Ellicott Dredges LLC of Baltimore, Maryland makes dredging equipment that is used around the world to help improve river flow and flood control. Ellicott has purchased OPIC political risk insurance to support sales of its equipment in multiple countries, most recently Iraq, where dredging is helping restore hydroelectric dams.
“I don’t think we could be in Iraq without OPIC’s support,” Ellicott President Peter Bowe said during OPIC’s 2014 Impact Awards. He also noted that the international sales of the company’s dredging equipment have supported manufacturing jobs in Maryland and Wisconsin, where the company operates plants. Learn more
Oklahoma oil producer introduces advanced drilling technology in Colombia Joshi Technologies Inc., a small independent oil producer in Tulsa, Oklahoma, used OPIC financing to extend the life of an aging oil field in Colombia using its innovative drilling technology. In addition to successfully increasing output at a field that larger oil producers had considered to be past its prime, Joshi has produced oil with far less disruption to the environment than would result from drilling a new field. Joshi has created local jobs in a remote region of northern Colombia and supported other investments in the community including a local school.
“As a small business seeking to do business in Colombia, I knew that no bank in the U.S. would give us a loan,” said Joshi President Sadanand Joshi. “Without OPIC, this project would not have been possible.” Learn more
Washington state business brings off-grid solar technology to rural India OPIC financing helped Simpa Networks of Seattle, Wash. introduce affordable off-grid solar systems to remote villages in India that are not connected to the electricity grid.
“If you can expand access to energy, you can expand access to opportunity,” said Simpa Co-Founder and CEO Paul Needham. “We partnered with OPIC to scale up a business model that is making that idea real.” Learn more