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Duquesne SBDC Client Wins Pittsburgh Exporter of the Year

In his roles as an international businessman and humanitarian, the owner of a Monroeville area company was honored July 16 as the U.S. Small Business Administration Pittsburgh District Exporter of the Year.

Physician Dr. Jash Sharma, president of CIMA Life Sciences Inc., worked with the Duquesne University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to start a company that makes intraocular lenses used in cataract surgery. Through Duquesne's SBDC, he obtained a Small Business Administration's guaranteed loan to build a facility in Monroeville in 2011.

Through the SBDC, he met U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines-and achieved International Standard Organization approval. Duquesne's Center for International Regulatory Assistance also helped CIMA obtain the CE mark, a global health and product safety mark. This opened the company's market to the European Union, allowing Sharma to export his product to more than 30 countries-and to donate lenses to eye camps in rural China, India, Mexico and Africa.

The Duquesne SBDC nominated Sharma for this award both because his company has grown to 22 employees and because of his social entrepreneurship and philanthropy. Sharma is the sixth business owner since 2000 that has worked with the SBDC Global Business Program to win the Exporter of the Year award.

Sharma is working with homeless teens at nearby Gateway High School, explaining, "They need work, and I want to provide training so they one day possibly can pursue careers in machining." CIMA produces 500 high-precision, foldable hydrophobic lenses daily.

In his native India, where he first started making lenses, Sharma has worked to combat blindness in concert with his father. Blinded by glaucoma and eye infections, his father spent his life savings to establish an eye hospital that provides free cataract operations for the needy. Last year alone, 4,200 patients left the hospital with free lenses from Sharma, glasses and a life no longer restricted by blindness.

"I want to give back," Sharma said, "so everyone can live the life I lead."

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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