Export-Import Bank a boon for black small businesses

If the National Black Chamber of Commerce is looking for an African-American-owned business that has flourished thanks to the Export-Import Bank (“Black Chamber: Ex-Im has done nothing for us,” Oct. 7), it should have called me. 

My all-export business, Innovative Global Supply in Greenville, S.C., has relied on Ex-Im credit arrangements to ship our wellness and nutritional products to emerging markets in Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East since 2008 — and if Congress doesn’t reauthorize the bank soon, it is small, minority-owned businesses like mine that will be most at risk.

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We have fourth-quarter 2015 sales on the table to Cameroon, Vietnam and Egypt at risk because our Ex-Im export credit insurance policy may no longer be available. The loss of those sales will jeopardize our growth as a company and hinder our ability to retain and expand our staff.

The NBCC states that it has a strategic goal to “increase business development and growth via procurement, capital access and international trade.” I have personally led trade missions to West Africa comprised solely of African-American-owned businesses. In order to facilitate the international business, small- and medium-sized enterprises must have some type of financial assistance. If the NBCC truly wants to fulfill its goal of increasing international trade for NBCC members, it should support the reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank.

In the last fiscal year, Ex-Im supported more than $2 billion in minority and women-owned business exports. Nearly one out of five of the bank’s transactions during this time supported businesses like mine. If the Black Chamber wants to argue these numbers should be higher still, I might agree; but acting as if the bank simply ignores minority entrepreneurs or fails to provide information about the work it does in our communities is unfair and incorrect.

The Ex-Im Bank has authorized more financing to minority and women-owned businesses in the last six years than in the 16 years before — the result of tough congressional oversight and a commitment to ensuring that all potential American exporters have equal access to the bank. The bank has broad bipartisan support. Two-thirds of the Senate — including both African-American senators — are on record supporting the bank and most analysts believe it would pass the House with a supermajority of over 300 votes.

I urge our leaders to bring this pro-jobs, pro-growth, pro-diversity program to a vote.

From Cherod Webber, president and CEO, Innovative Global Supply LLC, Columbia, S.C.


Solving student loan crisis is crucial

If Washington officials really want to improve the economy, they should tackle the student loan crisis. While students have been taking out debt to fund their education for some time, the amount they owe has surged recently, hitting $1.2 trillion this year.

If that weren’t enough, some expect this trend to continue over the next decade, which could cause this debt to reach $2.5 trillion.

Many Americans are weighed down by such loans, and are postponing plans to buy homes, get married and even start businesses. Their monthly payments also reduce their spending power, a development that hampers economic growth and undermines job creation.

Currently, it seems every presidential candidate has a plan to fix the student loan crisis. If one should succeed, it could go a long way toward alleviating society’s ills.

From Charles L. Bovaird II, Boston