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U.S. grants spur international focus.

Penetrating Eastern Europe markets remains difficult today for many small businesses. Since many lack the necessary resources and know-how to venture abroad, small enterprises often turn to their associations for help.

A new grant program administered through the Consortia of American Businesses in Eastern Europe now helps small firms develop commercial ties and joint ventures in the former communist bloc countries. The CABEE small business grant program is part of the American Business Initiative, a joint effort of the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Under the program, four association-led projects, including one involving ASAE, were awarded $500,000 matching grants. The three-year grants cover start-up costs for setting up commercial offices in Eastern Europe to facilitate export trade with U.S. firms. In return, grant recipients must offer technical know-how to help foreign counterparts adapt for free-market entrepreneurialism.

ASAE participates in a grant project called the Eastern European Environmental Business Consortium, a group of five associations formed to carry out is proposal to develop and sustain U.S. commercial presence in Eastern Europe. Spearheaded by the Water Environment Federation, Alexandria, Virginia, the consortium will work to further technologies for improving environmental quality in Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia.

Still in its infancy, the consortium is working to establish a commercial office and staff in Warsaw, Poland. Once initial fact-finding trips determine specific needs and opportunities in the host countries, consortium leaders will have a solid framework to pursue. An advisory committee made up of Polish residents from various professions will help identify and prioritize needs.

Other consortium members include the National Solid Wastes Management Association, Washington, D.C.: the Coaliation for International Environmental Research and Assistance, Fairfax, Virginia; and the Global Environment and Technology Foundation, Annandale, Virginia.

This venture marks ASAE's first major step forward in becoming an "international catalyst," says Henry L. Ernstthal, CAE, who travels to Poland as ASAE's chief representative to the consortium. In its recent visioning statement, ASAE embraces the global image by seeking to become an international facilitator among associations, he notes.

By combining their resources, each partner brings expertise to the project. ASAE, for example, will provide organizational advice in nonprofit management for creating infrastructures - which function like environmental trade associations - in Poland.

"To survive in a free market economy, Eastern Europeans will likely develop their own version of nonprofit associations," predicts Nancy Green, who manages ASAE's International Section. "By laying the groundwork now, ASAE becomes a major player in helping these new patterns evolve."

Grants were also awarded to association projects headed by the American Building Products Export/Import Council, Washington, D.C.; the Food Processing Machinery and Supplies Association, Alexandria, Virginia; and the Telecommunications Industry Association, Washington, D.C.
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Title Annotation:Eastern European Environmental Business Consortium; Consortia of American Businesses in Eastern Europe's financial help to small businesses
Publication:Association Management
Date:Jan 1, 1992
Previous Article:Meet your partners.
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