Russian Entrepreneur Touts ITA Training Program ‘Life-Changing’September 12, 2012
Justyna Kottke and Tracy Perrelli are International Trade Specialists at the U.S. Department of Commerce
At a reception honoring alumni of ITA’s Special American Business Internship Training (SABIT) Program held in St. Petersburg, Russia on August 2, Dr. Oleg Prokhorenko, a Russian entrepreneur and small business owner, told Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sánchez that participation in a SABIT internship “changed his life and career.”
Dr. Prokhorenko grew his company, Laboratory of Glass Properties, after participating in a SABIT internship in the United States in 1995 to learn about glass manufacturing at Ford Motor Company’s Scientific Research Laboratory.
His company provides testing and data analysis of glass and glass material qualities, and has invented a system to check energy efficiency methods used during the manufacturing of windows, car glass, and optical glass. Dr. Prokhorenko attributes the growth of his small business to the knowledge and experience gained during his SABIT Program internship.
“I built this business based on what I learned during my SABIT internship. I now employ more than 60 people and my company is growing,” he told Sánchez.
Earlier that day, Prokhorenko participated in a training seminar on corporate leadership ethics for SABIT alumni. The attendees for the training included past SABIT program participants and leaders of small and medium enterprises; both groups found the training very useful for their businesses.
SABIT Program Impacts Small Business Development
Since the SABIT Program was founded over 20 years ago, the program has trained more than 5,000 mid-to-senior level professionals and business leaders from the countries of the former Soviet Union. These participants are selected through a highly competitive application process for industry-specific technical assistance programs, which bring them to the United States for three to four weeks during which they meet with federal, state, and local government, associations, academia, large corporations and small and medium businesses. These programs typically begin in Washington, DC, and then take the delegations to various locations in the continental United States, chosen for best fit with their industry.
Upon returning to their home countries, SABIT Program participants have reported many successes, including the establishment and growth of industry associations, cooperation with participants from their countries and other regions, opportunities to make positive improvements to the protection of intellectual property, promotions to decision-making positions within their government, and development of new business relationships with U.S. companies that they met during their training.
In fact, the SABIT Program has facilitated over $850 million in U.S. exports over the last 20 years. These types of outcomes are very beneficial to both the SABIT participants and their countries and to U.S. companies, many of which are small and medium firms that interact with the SABIT trainees during and after their training.
For small and medium companies, the opportunity to meet with SABIT Program delegations is very appealing as a chance to learn about their industry in a different geographic area, and meet with industry leaders and potential business partners without having to travel to these countries.
The SABIT Program provides valuable benefits to U.S. companies and organizations and to its alumni. Dr. Prokhorenko is a great example of one of the thousands of SABIT Program alumni who have been able to significantly better their businesses and lives thanks in part to ITA.