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Combustion Associates Inc. of Corona, Calif. Is Named Ex-Im Bank's Small Business Exporter of the Year for Sub-Saharan Africa

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 5, 2009

Media Contact Name/Phone: 

Marianna Ohe (202-565-3200)

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Combustion Associates Inc. (CAI) of Corona, Calif., is to receive an award as the 2009 Small Business Exporter of the Year for sub-Saharan Africa from the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) at the Bank's 75th anniversary annual conference in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, April 16.

Using an Ex-Im Bank insurance policy, CAI is expanding its global business and workforce through a multimillion-dollar sale of eight 10-megawatt electric-power generating systems to the government of Benin. To fulfill the contract, the minority- and woman-owned company has nearly doubled its workforce from 35 to 65 employees.

We would not be where we are without Ex-Im Bank resources that assign small businesses the highest priority, said Combustion President Mukund Kavia. We now have potential customers from the Philippines coming in, and we've got another good lead from Indonesia. When I mention Ex-Im Bank, it gives us credibility, and then the customers ask if they qualify for Ex-Im Bank financing.

Two of Ex-Im Bank's highest priorities are to strengthen support for U.S. small business exports and U.S. exports to sub-Saharan Africa, said J. Joseph Grandmaison, a member of Ex-Im Bank's board of directors. We hope that Combustion Associates' success in both those areas is an inspiration to other U.S. small businesses that would like to grow their business and workforce by exporting. I am delighted to present Combustion Associates with this well-earned award.

Mukund Kavia and his wife, Kusum Kavia, CAI vice president, were born in Kenya, grew up in England, and emigrated to the United States, founding CAI in Corona 21 years ago. Beginning as environmental consultants, they moved on to manufacturing and installing skid-mounted electrical power producing equipment and auxiliary systems.

CAI's turnkey contract in Benin covers all aspects of the project, including the provision of engineering, construction management, installation, training and post installation services for Benin's Ministry of Mines, Energy and Water. The completed 80-megawatt power plant will use mostly natural gas to generate power for the national grid.

The engineering phase of the project is completed and has been approved. Now we bring manufacturing jobs back to Corona, where the unemployment rate is almost 10 percent, said CAI Vice President Kusum Kavia. We have two shifts at our manufacturing plant. You can see it in the faces of our employees -- they are so glad to have work, to be able to sustain their families. Dignity comes from having a job.

The Benin transaction is being supported through a collaborative effort -- Ecobank, a pan-African bank with more than 500 branches in 26 countries, is providing a letter of credit facility confirmed by Citibank, N.A. Ex-Im Bank is supporting the financing through its bank letter of credit policy. Ecobank is one of 14 banks participating in Ex-Im Bank's $1 billion Nigerian Banking facility to expedite processing of short- and medium-term insurance and guarantee transactions supporting U.S. exports to Nigeria.
Ex-Im Bank's 34th annual conference on April 16-17 will be held at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. The award ceremony will take place after the April 16 luncheon program which begins at 12:30 p.m.

For more information on Ex-Im Bank and the annual conference, including the current agenda, and to register online to attend, visit www.exim.gov.

Ex-Im Bank is the official export-credit agency of the United States. The independent, self-sustaining federal agency, now celebrating its 75th anniversary, helps create and maintain U.S. jobs by financing the sale of U.S. exports, primarily to emerging markets throughout the world, by providing loan guarantees, export-credit insurance and direct loans.

In Fiscal Year 2008, Ex-Im Bank authorized $3.2 billion -- more than 22 percent of total authorizations -- in direct support of U.S. small businesses as primary exporters. The Bank approved 2,328 transactions for the direct benefit of small business exporters, representing 86 percent of the total number of transactions approved. In addition, an estimated $1.1 billion of Ex-Im Bank's long-term authorizations is attributable to indirect small business exports -- goods or services that are sold by U.S. small businesses to other U.S. companies and subsequently exported.