Apply for a grant to grow your business and brand internationally


The State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) Grant offers eligible Delaware businesses assistance to help launch or expand export activity. Grant funds can be used to reimburse Delaware businesses for up to 50 percent of all pre-approved, eligible, export marketing expenses, up to a maximum of $10,000 per fiscal year, per company. For more information, contact the Export Delaware Team.



Here are some examples of how you can use STEP Grant funds to expand your exports: 


In addition to these activities, Delaware Small Businesses may participate in Export Delaware’s Business Trips. These trips are an excellent opportunity to meet face-to-face with distributors and potential customers – all with the assistance of seasoned global trade experts. Travel expenses on these trips are eligible for reimbursement through the STEP Grant. Click here to learn more.

Note, to be eligible to receive a STEP Grant, your business must have a physical operation and employees in Delaware and meet additional requirements listed below.



How it Works

Delaware Small Businesses who need financial assistance expanding into new international markets are encouraged to apply for a STEP Grant.

  1. Apply: Apply by completing a STEP Grant Application. List the amount of funds you are requesting on your application. Note the maximum grant award amount you may be eligible for is $10,000.
  2. Award: If your business meets the SBA STEP Grant requirements, and there are funds available, you will be awarded a STEP Grant to move forward on the project. All expenses must be pre-approved by Export Delaware, so be sure not to incur any expenses before you receive final award from our office.
  3. Project Execution and Payment: Go about your international business and keep a good record of your expenses along the way. Note what expenses are allowable and unallowable per the SBA STEP Grant Guidelines below.
  4. Reimbursement: Once the project/trip is complete, you can submit your reimbursement request to Export Delaware per the STEP Grant guidelines. You will be reimbursed 50% of the costs associated with your project, as long as they meet the requirements. For example, if the project costs $10,000, you may submit a reimbursement request for $5,000 (50% of the cost). View the Expense Reimbursement Instructions here.
  5. Report Sales: You will be required to report on any new sales achieved as a result of the project/trip up to 18 months after your STEP grant award.

Note, Delaware companies can receive funding for a maximum of three times, per country market, in a five-year period.


Does My Business Qualify?

To qualify for STEP Grant funds, your business must meet the size requirements of the SBA (listed here), and the goods or services your organization that you will promote on this trip must be of US origin OR have at least 51% US content.

In addition, you must meet the following requirements:



STEP Grant Allowable Expenses

Click each item category below to find out which expenses are allowable (and unallowable). If you have questions about whether an expense is eligible, please get in touch with Export Delaware before incurring any expenses.


Travel expenses can only be reimbursed for ONE traveler per company. An exception may be made if the second traveler is a technical person who is needed to facilitate sales. 


Allowable Expenses:

  • Airfare – must be in compliance with the Fly America Act, which requires a US flagship carrier for all travel unless there is no service to that destination
  • Transportation costs (airfare, ground transportation, parking, taxis, Ubers, mileage, tolls, and other associated and allowable travel expenses).
  • Lodging – Maximum nightly lodging rate is set by the US Department of State. All lodging rates incurred must be on or below the nightly rate.
    Baggage fees
  • Design of marketing material fees
  • Development of market research materials
  • Fees for shipping sample products
  • Language interpretation services


Unallowable Expenses:

  • Two staff members travel
  • Expenses related to entertainment current or prospective clients or government officials
  • Passport and visa fees
  • Immunizations
  • International cell phone charges
  • Printing of marketing materials
  • Meals while traveling

International trade shows where your business is exhibiting or have one-on-one business meetings with prospects at the show. If you are attending to walk the show, or speak at the show, this activity is not eligible for STEP Grant Funds reimbursement.

Allowable Expenses:

  • All registration fees for an in-person trade show booth
  • All registration fees for an in-person a virtual trade show booth
  • Raw booth space (can be purchased and reimbursed up to 1 year prior to the trade show)
  • Design costs of the booth – this may include or is limited to: signage, furniture costs, graphics
  • Trade show catalog listing fees
  • Trade show advertising fees
  • Airfare costs for one traveler per company (economy only on U.S. carriers) – airfare must be in compliance with the Fly America Act, which requires a US flagship carrier for all travel unless there is no service to that destination *airfare can be purchased and reimbursed up to 6 months prior to trade show
  • Lodging for one traveler per company – maximum lodging rate as set by the US Department of State
  • Transportation costs for one traveler per company (airfare, ground transportation, parking, taxis, Ubers, mileage, tolls, and other associated and allowable travel expenses)
  • Fees for shipping sample products
  • Baggage fees
  • Design of marketing material fees to bring to show

Unallowable Expenses:

  • Expenses related to entertainment current or prospective clients or government officials
  • Meals while traveling
  • Passport and visa fees
  • Immunizations
  • International cell phone charges
  • Printing of marketing materials

Allowable Costs: 

  • Export training registration fees
  • Export training materials
  • Travel expenses to/from training(s)
  • Development of training materials
  • Venue fees to host a training
  • A/V fees for the training
  • Speaker fees
  • Export certification or training workshops offered by SBA resource partners, such as, Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), Women Business Centers (WBCs), and SCORE
  • U.S. Commercial Service trainings that assist companies going to market and with executing strategic export plans
  • ExporTech program – jointly offered by the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership and federal/state export partners
  • New to Export SIDO ESBC Training
  • Export compliance training from the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), Dept. of Commerce, Defense Directorate of Trade Controls (BIS), U.S. State Dept., and U.S. Census Bureau, Dept. of Commerce
  • State and local training programs by private-sector consultants including compliance, logistics, financing, and international marketing


Unallowable Expenses:

  • Food and beverage costs at trainings
  • Costs for printing training material

For costs associated with optimizing a website or webpage for a specific international audience.

Allowable Expenses:

  • Develop localized webpages for specific international markets
  • Translate pages of one’s website for specific markets
  • Conduct a search engine optimization (SEO) project for one’s website in a specific market
  • Create a mobile app integration, creation, and updates to support ESBC in selling their product(s) in a specific market
  • Develop a webstore setup and/or maintenance costs
  • Set up to receive and/or process online payments and orders
  • Create a platform to sell online using, but not limited to: Amazon Services, Walmart Marketplace, Alibaba Inc., FlipKart, and Rakuten
  • Develop cybersecurity protection to support exports

Unallowable Expenses:

  • Design of a company’s website

Allowable Expenses:

  • Customized Market Research
  • Initial Market Check
  • International Company Profile
  • International Partner Search
  • International Partner Search + Virtual Introductions
  • Gold Key Service (GKS)
  • Hosting a trade event
  • Participate in/attend a certified trade mission
  • Participate in/attend certified virtual fairs
  • Participate in/attend a Dept. of Commerce seminar or webinar
  • Website globalization support

Consultant fees, market research fees, certification, and compliance testing fees for the following projects. This activity is only allowable after the ESBC consultation with the U.S. Department of Commerce to avoid duplication of services.

Allowable Expenses:

  • Design a market entry strategy for an eligible small business
  • Provide a customized, market research for an eligible small business
  • Provide long-term market entry growth strategies for an eligible small business
  • Assist with compliance testing for products to enter a foreign market. This can include, but not limited to: CE Mark certification, ISO certification, RoHS certification, ITAR certification by the DDTC, State Dept., EAR licensing and certification fees by the BIS, US Dept. of Commerce


Unallowable Expenses:

  • Consultant fees that duplicate US Department of Commerce’s services

Must be pre-approved by Export Delaware.

Fees associated with designing, creating, and producing marketing materials for a specific international market.

Allowable Expenses:

  • Design of marketing brochures for specific markets
  • Design of social media platforms for specific markets
  • Design of websites for a specific market
  • Design of billboards for a specific market
  • Design of newspaper ads with an international focus
  • Design of advertisements in international magazines
  • Design of posters for a specific market
  • Design of product labeling for a specific market
  • Translation of items above
  • Other media may be approved in advance by STEP as consistent with its definition of marketing media


Unallowable Expenses:

  • Printing costs for any of the above activities

Export credit insurance premiums.

Allowable Expenses:

  • Fees incurred for export credit insurance policy (including EXIM Bank fees and private sector providers)
  • Monthly “pay-as-you-go” fees from EXIM Bank
  • Initial annual premium from private providers
  • Foreign buyer credit reports

SBA Logo

Funded in part through a Grant with the U.S. Small Business Administration.




Advanced Materials Technology


“Funds were provided to visit our two distributors in China and have meetings at key accounts. This account will help generate a large percentage of sales over the next several years.”

– Stephanie Rosenberg, Advanced Materials Tech


“This program helps us meet existing, and develop new, distribution channels, for our products. The two largest, medical trade shows in the world were part of our itineraries. This provided a great opportunity to gain market intelligence. The STEP grant, and all the other excellent support we receive from Export Delaware, has been an invaluable aid to our expansion overseas.”

– Andy Wood, LiteCure

Batta Environmental

“Export Delaware and the SBA are very helpful to small businesses who want to export. They have a great team, who are ready to help.”

– Naresh Batta, Batta Environmental

Oasis Inspection Systems

“The folks at Export Delaware have been very helpful with our efforts to reach prospects outside of the US by taking away the fear of the unknown.”

  • Jeff Palmer, OASIS Inspection Systems



Additional Funding For Export Activities


Additional capital resources are available from the federal government and other organizations for export activities. Options range from tax credits to low interest loans, and other financing plans. Search here to find the right option for your business.

  • Name of Incentive: Export Express Loan Program
  • Issuing Organization: SBA
  • Details: Simplest loans offered by the SBA, granted to support export activity. Loan approval in 36 hours or less.
  • Connect:  website
  • Name of Incentive: Export Working Capital Program
  • Issuing Organization: SBA
  • Details: Loans to fund export transactions from purchase order to collections, with a low guaranty fee and quick processing time.
  • Connect:  website
  • Name of Incentive: International Trade Loan Program
  • Issuing Organization: SBA
  • Details: Loans available to small businesses in a position to expand existing export markets or develop new export markets, or that have been adversely affected by import competition and can demonstrate that the loan proceeds will improve their competitive position.
  • Connect:  website