The Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council launched CommonwealthFirst, a three-year training programme aimed at encouraging UK Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to export to the Commonwealth. The Council launched the programme at Marlborough House on Tuesday 26th April 2016, the headquarters of the Commonwealth, at a breakfast session addressed by Moya Greene, CEO of Royal Mail plc.
CommonwealthFirst experts will select 100 leading, export-ready UK SMEs to become Commonwealth Export Champions over the next three years, focusing on 25 companies in the first phase by providing intensive training and mentoring support. The CommonwealthFirst mentors will help kick-start their international trade and investment journey while tapping into their network of international contacts.
By showcasing the success of the Commonwealth Export Champions, the programme will highlight the trade and investment opportunities for UK businesses across the Commonwealth – a free association of 53 countries, representing one third of the world’s population and fast growing markets including India, Australia, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, Nigeria and South Africa.
Speaking at the breakfast, Royal Mail Chief Executive Officer Moya Greene said: “This is a tremendous opportunity for ambitious, small businesses to start their international journey. With its shared use of the English language, similar legal structures and diverse range of markets, the Commonwealth is an ideal platform for those looking to make their first move into international markets. With our global reach and international delivery support, Royal Mail will be with them every step of the way.”
The programme is led by the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council with the support of Royal Mail. It was officially announced at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta in November 2015 by the then UK Trade Minister Lord Maude and Lord Marland, Chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council.
It is expected that the CommonwealthFirst model will be replicated in countries across the Commonwealth.
Companies interested in applying to become “Commonwealth Export Champions” have until 15th June to complete the online application process via www.commonwealthfirst.org. The first Commonwealth Export Champions will be announced on 7th July.