The State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) Grant helps small businesses expand internationally by funding international business development activities. The purpose of this grant is to offset the cost of conducting international business development for small businesses.
The max amount a company can receive in a year is $10,000. Examples of global business development activities include:
The U.S. Small Business Administration funds part of this program, and the Global Business Development (GBD) department administers the grant to businesses.
If GBD is not planning on attending a trade show your company is interested in, you can apply for general funding to attend any international trade show. Your company can also apply for general funding to conduct international business trips where your company is expanding its exports.
Participating in international trade shows is one of the most effective ways for companies to enter into new global markets or expand their visibility in existing markets. Trade shows offer opportunities to meet potential buyers, test market interest, and evaluate the competition.
During the 2019-2020 grant period, our Global Business Development staff will attend these trade shows, and we invite eligible companies to apply to join us:
November 18-21, 2019
March 3-5, 2020
April 20-24, 2020
Solar Power International 2020
September 14-17, 2020
The application will open late spring.
Depending on your business’s needs, you may apply for general funding to attend a trade show specific to your industry. Other trade shows include:
To apply for this grant, your company must:
Global Business Development staff evaluates export readiness based on your company’s ability to meet new customer demand, provide customer service to foreign buyers, and follow export regulations and certifications required to sell your product or service in the target market.
Eligible activities and expenses that qualify include, but are not limited to, the following:
Companies – not an individual employee of the company – must apply for the STEP grant. No third party consultants, agents, or representatives may apply on behalf of a client company or their own consultant firm.
Apply online in the OEDIT application portal. Apply for the grant at least four to six weeks before traveling. If you’re applying to attend a trade show with the Global Business Development division, you will need to apply during the application window stated in the Trade Shows section.
The online application asks about your company and export project, including:
Market Research Report
Complete this market research report to explain your decision to enter or expand into the proposed market.
Include a detailed budget outlining all expenses for the project.
When listing expected personnel and equipment expenses, be as detailed as possible; category labels such as “manufacturing equipment” and “management personnel” are too generic. Do not include equipment or salaries of personnel that the project team needs for operations outside of this project.
It typically takes us two to three weeks to review applications. A panel reviews all applications.
Companies that win the grant will receive a detailed commitment letter listing the approved export development project or activities, timing, and breakout of approved expenses in U.S. dollars. Even if your company qualifies for the grant, we may award less funding than you request based on the strength of applications and number of applicants.
Businesses will submit for reimbursement once their trip has been completed. If expenses are not submitted within the 30-day limit, company reimbursements may not be processed.
Reimbursements will be paid in full up to the awarded amount unless the company does not fulfill its obligations for participating in the approved program or submitting required receipts and summaries.
OEDIT will send surveys to STEP grantees every six months for up to three years. By applying for the grant, your company agrees to:
Funded in part by a grant with the U.S. Small Business Administration