Two Brothers from Ethiopia Become U.S. Citizens and Grow Multimillion-Dollar Small Business with EXIM Financing


The future of AGS (L-R) Teddy Kassa (Kassa Maru’s son), Senior VP of Sales and Purchasing, Kassa Maru, Chairman and President of AGS, and Yem Maru, Senior VP Corporates Services (Kassa’s daughter)

In 1977 two brothers from Ethiopia, Kassa and Melesse Maru, immigrated to the United States and settled in Chicago, Illinois, where they ultimately became U.S. citizens.  Kassa, based on his previous commercial aviation experience at Ethiopian Airlines, began working at Aviation Systems International (ASI) and quickly became Vice President of International Marketing. 

After 5 years with ASI, during which time Melesse had joined his brother at the company, the brothers decided to launch their own firm in 1982, American General Supplies, Inc. (AGS).

 AGS is a small family-owned aftermarket broker of commercial aircraft components and spare parts that concurrently provides materials and financing for exports to its global customer base, including customers in Africa. AGS also markets U.S. manufactured ground support equipment and U.S. based aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul services for aircraft and components.

In early 2000, AGS learned about the Export-Import Bank of the U.S. (EXIM Bank) through its lender at Bank of America (BOA).  The company needed a revolving line of credit to grow the business.

“Our customers needed AGS’ financing and we needed EXIM’s support to secure the financing capacity our customers so badly required,” explained Kassa Maru, AGS’ CEO and President.

EXIM currently guarantees most of the company’s export-related assets pledged as collateral for a $7 million line of credit through BOA.

With 97 percent of the company’s sales being export-related, AGS was previously only selling to Europe and Latin America. Now with EXIM, AGS has expanded into new markets throughout Africa, Asia, Europe and South America. It’s nearly doubled business since 2000 and staff has grown from18 employees to almost 50 in their Maryland and California offices.

“Having the Bank’s export support through its Working Capital Guarantee, has allowed us to grow our available line of credit with Bank of America and thereby expand our business,” said Melesse Maru, AGS’ Executive SVP of Finance.

Since 2009, EXIM Bank has authorized more loans to help grow minority-and women-owned businesses than it did over the previous sixteen years combined - making it the fastest growing sector in the Bank's small business portfolio.

The Bank has a business development team devoted to minority and women-owned businesses (MWOBs), called the MWOB group, which works exclusively with these businesses to provide hands-on guidance on how to qualify for and access EXIM financing. To learn more about EXIM financing and MWOB click here.


EXIM is an independent federal agency that supports and maintains U.S. jobs by filling gaps in private export financing at no cost to American taxpayers. The Bank provides a variety of financing mechanisms, including working capital guarantees and export credit insurance, to promote the sale of U.S. goods and services abroad. Almost 90 percent of its transactions directly serve American small businesses. In fiscal year 2016, EXIM approved $5 billion in total authorizations to support an estimated $8 billion in U.S. export sales. Since 2009, EXIM has supported more than 1.4 million American jobs in communities across the country and sent $3.8 billion of surplus to the U.S. Treasury for deficit reduction.


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