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Marianna Ohe (202) 565-3200

Washington, D.C.: Jackie M. Clegg, vice chair of the Export-Import Bank of the US (Ex-Im Bank), Tuesday told the Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT) that Ex-Im Bank is increasing its support to 100% coverage of working capital loans for women-owned businesses and other traditionally underserved markets.

This enhancement to our Working Capital Guarantee Program will help more women-owned and minority-owned companies and businesses located in rural or economically depressed areas obtain the money they need for pre-export costs, Clegg told a panel audience at OWIT's 10th Annual Conference. This pre-export financing will help even the smallest businesses compete in the world export market.

Specifically, the Private Export Funding Corporation (PEFCO) is the funding vehicle for the under-served markets program, Clegg said. Additional financing may be available through a related Ex-Im Bank/PEFCO program, Ex-Im Bank's Lender of Last Resort Program. This program has been designed to help small companies that have had difficulty finding lenders for their export finance needs.

Ex-Im Bank's Working Capital Guarantee Program makes more working capital available to small businesses by encouraging local banks to accept the risk. Ex-Im Bank's Delegated Authority Lenders Program puts lending decisions in the hands of local lenders, who can commit Ex-Im Bank's working capital guarantee without prior approval.

This year, the Working Capital Guarantee Program has been expanded to include community banks and asset-based lenders, which will facilitate exports by many small companies that do not have traditional forms of collateral, Clegg said.

She also cited examples of the many small women-owned businesses that already are succeeding in foreign markets using Ex-Im Bank programs. Chindex, Bethesda, MD, has sold more than $22 million of medical and diagnostic equipment to China and Macau using Ex-Im Bank financing. And Cell-Tel International, Jacksonville, FL, sells refurbished cellular equipment to Latin America and Asia with the help of Ex-Im Bank's Working Capital Guarantee Program.

Clegg noted that women-owned businesses are the fastest-growing segment of the US economy, with women starting new businesses at twice the rate of the overall US population, and growth in the number of women-owned firms exceeded the national average in every state and in nearly every industry.

Ex-Im Bank, headquartered in Washington, D.C., has regional offices in five major cities -- New York, Miami, Houston, Chicago, and Long Beach, California -- and two West Coast satellite offices in San José and Orange County, California.

Ex-Im Bank is an independent U.S. government agency that assists in financing the export of U.S. goods and services to industrializing and developing markets all over the world by providing loans, loan guarantees, and export credit insurance. In fiscal year 1999, Ex-Im Bank supported $15 billion of U.S. exports worldwide.