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U.S. Small Business Administration and IDB join forces to help Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises

PANAMA CITY, Panama – On the occasion of the CEO Summit of the Americas, María Contreras-Sweet, Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and Luis Alberto Moreno, President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), announced their intention to collaborate to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) throughout the hemisphere.

SBA and IDB aim to increase their impact on SME development and trade and investment levels by tapping into their respective areas of expertise and networks. SBA and IDB will cross-disseminate information about support services they provide, while fostering more connections between small and medium-sized businesses in the U.S. and Latin America and the Caribbean.

“President Obama calls entrepreneurship the most powerful force the world has ever known for lifting people out of poverty. I have engaged with my global counterparts, from Marrakesh to Milan, and now in Panama, and in those conversations I’ve seen how leaders across the developing world have come to see the truth behind these words,” said Administrator Contreras-Sweet. “Entrepreneurship is no longer considered the path you take because you have to, but rather it’s the path you take because of the opportunities it affords.”

One of the key tools for this collaboration will be IDB´s ConnectAmericas platform. This is a social media platform for businesses, where businesspeople from throughout the hemisphere can connect, and access tools and practical information designed to help them carry out international transactions. During its first year of operation, ConnectAmericas has been visited by more than 250,000 people from 170 countries and territories, and 24,000 people from 56 countries have created profiles on the platform. Through its collaboration with the SBA, the IDB expects to increase the participation of US firms in ConnectAmericas, while using the platform to spread the word about a variety of programs that SBA offers to SMEs.

The SBA helps Americans start, build and grow businesses through an extensive network of field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. SBA’s programs and services focus on access to capital, entrepreneurial development, government contracting, small business advocacy, and export promotion. SBA administers the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Program to provide management assistance to current and prospective small business owners. SBDCs foster local and regional economic development through job creation and retention. The SBDC model of business development has been embraced throughout the Hemisphere with 20 nations in the Americas in the process of implementing SBDC-like programs through the Small Business Network of the Americas, launched by President Obama in 2012.

“To be able to trade and invest internationally, SMEs need better access to contacts abroad, as well as training, market intelligence and finance, and that is what we provide in ConnectAmericas,” said IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno. “Through this collaboration, we aim to reach more U.S. companies, while incorporating an additional source of high-quality information and tools that they can access.”

Over the coming weeks, SBA and IDB will discuss the terms of implementation of these activities.

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