C-Suite Wednesday – SBA Aided 3,400 Small Businesses with Export Sales in 2021

September 28, 2022

Delaney Sexton
Contributing Editor

C-Suite Wednesday – SBA Aided 3,400 Small Businesses with Export Sales in 2021

“For small businesses, exporting products abroad can jump-start growth and unlock an enterprise’s full potential. Nearly 96 percent of consumers live outside of the United States. When small firms sell their products internationally, they can reach countless new customers, become more resilient, and boost their bottom line,” says Chairwoman Velázquez. “Today, I want to take a closer look at the operations of SBA’s Office of International Trade and particularly STEP, and the actions Congress can take to improve the program and address any challenges facing the Office.”

The House Small Business Committee held a hearing last week reviewing SBA’s management of the Office of International Trade, which is responsible for supporting small business exports. They also reviewed the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) which provides grants to small businesses that want to export.

Here is a review of STEP’s status:
• In fiscal year 2021, 92% of international trade loans were made by community or regional banks.
• Also in FY21, SBA supported $832 million in export sales through STEP, assisting over 3,400 small businesses.
• Over the last decade, STEP awarded more than $200 million to all 50 states and 6 territories. This supported 12,000 small businesses and generated almost $5.5 billion.

After the hearing, the House Small Business Committee passed a bipartisan bill that reauthorizes STEP for four fiscal years (STEP Improvement Act of 2022). The bill also will create a standardized application process, increase spending flexibility, and allow small businesses less than one year old to participate in the program.

“Since its inception, STEP has helped thousands of small businesses break into the international marketplace. By expanding the number of small firms that export, we can grow both the small business and U.S. economy,” says Chairwoman Velázquez. “This bipartisan bill will ensure that the STEP can help more entrepreneurs export their products abroad moving forward and institute a number of improvements that will help the program better meet the needs of small businesses.”

House Hearing
STEP Improvement Act of 2022 Press Release