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OPIC workshop in Baltimore draws more than 170 small businesses and entrepreneurs

November 18, 2016

OPIC Offers Financing and Political Risk Insurance to Support American Businesses Looking to Expand into Emerging Economies Worldwide


Baltimore, MD – The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Government’s development finance institution, drew more than 170 small businesses and entrepreneurs to the 10th Anniversary of the Expanding Horizons Small Business Workshop in Baltimore today. OPIC has hosted over 30 Expanding Workshops nationwide since 2006 to educate small businesses about the opportunities of expanding into developing markets, and the ways that OPIC can support this growth.

U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and a senior member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, delivered opening remarks underscoring the importance of continually identifying new opportunities for small businesses to expand on a global level, and working with federal partners to ensure a level playing field for competition. Maryland Lt. Governor, Boyd K. Rutherford, attended the workshop to speak with attendees firsthand about his extensive experience in small and minority business development. Joseph G. Wendel, Chief Financial Officer for Ellicott Dredges, a Baltimore-based company, gave today’s keynote address, discussing how OPIC's political risk insurance ensures that our American-made dredges are successfully sold and implemented in developing markets, many of which are affected by conflict or instability.

“I would like to reflect on all the hard work, determination and success Expanding Horizons has had during the past 10 years,” said Elizabeth L. Littlefield, OPIC President and CEO. “We’ve traveled across the country to educate U.S. small businesses on how they can expand their business to emerging markets abroad. In doing so, we’ve helped these businesses learn about the tools and resources, not just from OPIC, but from our sister agencies as well, that will help these businesses grow abroad and have an impact throughout the developing world.”

“America’s small business leaders and entrepreneurs are innovators and risk-takers by nature, so it makes perfect sense that they lead the way in identifying new markets and untapped regions for potential growth,” said Senator Cardin. “It also is imperative that small businesses have strong partnerships at all levels of government so that their elected officials understand the issues affecting their success and the opportunities to shape policies to promote American business overseas.” 

“It’s an honor and privilege to be here today to tell our story – how OPIC support was instrumental for our small business to expand abroad and operate successfully in challenging markets,” said Joseph G. Wendel, Chief Financial Officer of Ellicott Dredges. “I don’t think we’d be able to operate in some of those markets without OPIC’s support.”

OPIC outlined the innovative financing and political risk insurance products that the agency has provided for more than four decades to help U.S. businesses successfully invest in emerging markets. Other supporting organizations at the workshop included the U.S.- Africa Office of International Trade (USAOIT), BizLaunch, Maryland Women’s Business Center, National Black Chamber of Commerce, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council), and National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce, Global Delaware, Greater San Jose Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Mid-Atlantic District Export Council (DEC), Maryland’s Small Business Development Center, Global Chamber-Baltimore, Mid-Atlantic Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Montgomery County, and the Minority Business Economic Council.

Since 1971, OPIC has helped U.S. businesses of all sizes expand in emerging markets, and is open for business in more than 160 countries. OPIC has supported nearly $200 billion of investments and operates on a self-sustaining basis at no cost to American taxpayers. To date, OPIC has provided $3.4 billion in support to Maryland businesses investing in emerging markets ranging from agriculture to energy to infrastructure.

Expanding Horizons is a unique opportunity for businesses to hear directly from U.S. Government officials about programs that support U.S. companies entering developing markets. Regional companies and entrepreneurs are able to learn about OPIC’s finance and insurance products and how to take advantage of the resources OPIC offers to gain access to emerging markets overseas. Expanding Horizons workshops have educated 3,500 U.S. small businesses and entrepreneurs since the program’s launch.


OPIC is the U.S. Government’s development finance institution. It mobilizes private capital to help address critical development challenges and in doing so, advances U.S. foreign policy and national security priorities. Because OPIC works with the U.S. private sector, it helps U.S. businesses gain footholds in emerging markets, catalyzing revenues, jobs and growth opportunities both at home and abroad. OPIC achieves its mission by providing investors with financing, political risk insurance, and support for private equity investment funds, when commercial funding cannot be obtained elsewhere. Established as an agency of the U.S. Government in 1971, OPIC operates on a self-sustaining basis at no net cost to American taxpayers.

 All OPIC projects adhere to high environmental and social standards and respect human rights, including worker's rights. By mandating high standards, OPIC aims to raise the industry and regional standards of the countries where it funds projects. OPIC services are available for new and expanding business enterprises in more than 160 countries worldwide.