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Q&A: Using the Export-Import Bank of the United States

When Jim Ajmal launched Valley of the Sun Cosmetics, a cosmetic products business based in Gardena, Calif., a little more than a decade ago, he started with just $10,000. Now, his $4 million company has grown from three to 33 employees, with sales in more than 30 foreign countries. In "2013 we are projecting over $5 million, and 2014 we are projecting around $7 million," he says.

According to Ajmal, much of this business growth is due to the services he received from the Export-Import Bank of the United States, a federal agency that helps strengthen the position of U.S. exporters.

Additionally, export business owners can use a trusted online foreign exchange service to help them complete cross-border sales transactions abroad.

“Start shipping.” Go out there and explore the opportunity.

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Here, he talks about how the organization accelerated his business growth.

As a small business owner, what has been your experience with the Export-Import Bank of the United States?

Ajmal: When I went to Ex-Im about eight or nine years ago, we were a small company. Our total annual sales were about $300,000, with 15 to 20 percent coming from international sales. I went to them for a line of credit and the insurance, and that's when we started turning things around. We were also selling in the U.S. at the time, but now we are a 99-percent export-based company. 

Why does the Ex-Im Bank work for you?

Ajmal: It brings twice more business than I would get without it. By giving customers credit, they have more buying power. They're eager to buy bigger quantities. 

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How do you select the distributors you use in foreign countries?

Ajmal: We meet them at trade shows. We get their company profiles. We look at who they are, what product they are already distributing, which channels they are going through. We choose out of a pool of five or six potential distributors in a country, and go with one. 

What would be your advice to a small business owner who's looking at exporting to foreign countries, but isn't sure if it would be beneficial to growing their business? 

Ajmal: I would tell them, "Start shipping." Go out there and explore the opportunity. Everybody loves American products. Give them the best quality products, and let's create jobs. Let's bring revenue back into America. And it's easy - it's just super easy. 

What does the future look like for your business?

Ajmal: Our first product was a skin care item. Now, we pretty much do skin care, hair-care products, and the opportunity is unlimited. We think by 2014 to 2015, we should do over $10 million in business. People want American-made products.

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