Today the CommonwealthFirst programme formally opened applications for its fourth cohort intake of UK SMEs. The programme’s mission is to encourage small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to trade and invest across the Commonwealth; a market comprising 52 English speaking countries with a combined population of 2.2 billion – at least 60% of whom are under the age of 30 – and a combined GDP in excess of US$10 trillion.
The Commonwealth Factor, with its shared language, complementary legal systems and business practices, helps to reduce trade costs by around 19% between member countries. By 2020 Commonwealth trade is expected to double to US$1 trillion and the CommonwealthFirst programme will be at the forefront of this new wave of Commonwealth businesses.
This prestigious programme has been developed through a partnership between the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC) and Royal Mail with support from i-genius as implementation partner. Export Champions are provided with unique access and support in their quest to win new business in fast growing Commonwealth markets. Their success is showcased as an encouragement to the wider UK business community.
Building on the significant success of the three current cohorts, the fourth cohort will be selected to become Commonwealth Export Champions according to their ambitions, innovative and flexible approach, potential for overseas growth and export-readiness.
Lord Marland, Chairman of the CWEIC, said “as we select the final companies to be part of the initial programme we expect standards to be higher than ever. This is the right time for UK companies to be thinking about global opportunities.”
Successful businesses will have the opportunity to take part in the Commonwealth Games in Queensland in Australia and the Commonwealth Summit in London in April 2018. There will also be a Trade Mission to Africa building on previous missions to India, Malaysia, Singapore and a visit to Canada in October. They will also receive expert mentoring as well as access to tailored training and networking events.
SMEs can apply to become a CommonwealthFirst Export Champion via www.commonwealthfirst.org. Applications close on 4th December and the fourth and final cohort of the initial 3 year pilot programme will be announced in January 2018.
CommonwealthFirst hosted its first Export Day on Monday 17th July at One Great George Street, London. The event combined its eighty SME Export Champions with business mentors, government and business representatives.
The highlight of the event was the introduction of the latest cohort of UK SME Export Champions. These companies represent various regions and business sectors, showing rich breadth of innovation and excellence that the UK has to offer the world. These include businesses delivering off-grid renewable energy, healthy snacks, innovative antimicrobial technology, teddy bears, and even a digital knitting machine.
Whilst most of the Export Day was focused on encouraging cross sector collaborations, there were presentations from Richard Snowdon, Director at Royal Mail International on ‘exporting through ecommerce’, and Luke Walden, FX Specialist at Godi Financial on ‘FX management as an early stage exporter’.
The Second Cohort of CommonwealthFirst Export Champions has been officially launched at a Roundtable and Reception hosted by the Indian High Commission on February 8th. The Roundtable was addressed by the Indian Deputy High Commissioner to the UK, H.E. Mr. Dinesh K. Patnaik and Manoj Ladwa – a member of CWEICs Advisory Board who led the first CommonwealthFirst trade mission to India in November last year. CWEIC Chairman Lord Marland later addressed the Reception, highlighting the importance of SMEs being willing to trade overseas.
Export Champions from Cohort One related their experience of the programme’s first trade mission to India, describing the challenges and huge opportunities they had found doing business there. Representatives Thompson from education consultancy Hi-impact and operational performance consultancy KM&T described how the mission had opened up an array of new contacts and they were hoping to see new business wins soon.
Following an online application process, the Second Cohort of 26 companies have been selected based on their level of impact, innovation, ambition and ability to succeed across Commonwealth markets. 100 Export Champions will be selected in total over the next two and a half years.
This cohort’s companies range from designers of aircraft covers and manufacturers of innovative roadside wind turbines to companies able to treble crop yields and convert sports stadiums in to multi-purpose arenas. They are a true testament to the diversity and strength of British business.
CommonwealthFirst is delighted to be working with Second Cohort with preparations under way for the programme’s second trade mission to Malaysia and Singapore.
The Commonwealth Trade Initiative (CTI) online platform links buyers and sellers from across diverse Commonwealth markets. It is free to join and members can take advantage of a sophisticated business matching function which will automatically provide them with targeted business leads from across the Commonwealth based on their user profile information.
The matching algorithm is constantly at work behind the scenes to gather information to produce daily business matches. It combines big data and machine learning to automate the procurement, lead generation and networking process.
By becoming a part of the Commonwealth Business Platform users can take advantage of an intuitive and enjoyable user experience that gamifies the process of working with new businesses.
Sign up is FREE and takes less than 2 minutes: http://tradecommonwealth.com/#/register