July 23, 2004 -- Last week the U.S. Small Business Administration opened up its borders when it signed an alliance with the American and African Business Women's Alliance. The two groups hope the partnership will promote international trade between small businesses in the two lands, as well as create mentor relationships.

The SBA and the AABWA have agreed to share information on women's business ownership, training, procurement and online programs. The groups will also share information on international trade programs, export assistance, general resources and other outreach material.

The two organizations have maintained a strong relationship since the AABWA was formed in 2001, but this is their first formal partnership.

The mission of the AABWA is to increase international and intra-Africa trade and investment by forging business partnerships in Africa and with the U.S. The group runs seminars and conferences in order to promote management skills that foster international trade. The organization also provides members with importing and exporting information.

The always cash-strapped SBA noted that, "All activities are subject to the availability of funding."