CWF | CommonwealthFirst | World Champion in SME Support
27
Nov

Only One Week to Go! Commonwealth Export Champion Application Deadline Closes Monday 4th December

CWF-SME-Cohort

Over three years, 100 leading UK SMEs will be selected to become Commonwealth Export Champions. Export Champions will be provided with unique access and support in their quest to win new business in the fast growing Commonwealth markets. Their success will be showcased as an encouragement to the wider UK business community.

Tags: CommonwealthFirst, Export Champion, UK SME, SMEs, UK, Trade, Export, Commonwealth, Business, Fourth Cohort, Application Deadline, Royal Mail, Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, CWEIC, i-genius, CWF, Export Champions, Commonwealth Export Champion Application

27
Nov

Paul May, Universal Smart Cards, Export Champion Interview

Paul May, Commercial Director, Universal Smart Cards

Paul May, Commercial Director, Universal Smart Cards

What future trends are you seeing within your industry?
I see a growing market for RFID products as payment is disrupted by new fintechs.  And I see ‘pull through’ from smart phone based apps which need a ‘lowest common denominator’ token = the smart card, smart device.

How did the idea for your business come about?
Universal Smart Cards was founded by the 2 owners 16 years ago to provide an independent flexible customer service orientated smart card business as an alternative to the monolithic global corporate entities.

What makes your business unique?
Our breadth of portfolio, our superb supply chain/partner network, our customer service and our independence set us apart.

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21
Nov

Paul Rose, YouTeachMe, Export Champion Interview

Paul Rose YouTeachMe

Paul Rose, Managing Director, YouTeachMe

How did the idea for your business come about?
Between 2009 and 2013 I was the Headteacher of a school in difficulty. I wanted to help the teaching team to rapidly improve and looked to technology to support them. No such technology existed. Having succeeded in moving the school to a ‘Good’ Ofsted rating, I quit my job, took the knowledge I had gained and began working on the development of a technology with the capability to transform all schools; YouTeachMe.

What is the USP of YouTeachMe?
Only school staff can solve the challenges facing the education system. Everything we do is designed to help them improve their own work and in doing so, enable others to improve too.

Who can use YouTeachMe?
Any school. We are working with all school types; Early Years, Infant, Junior, Primary, Secondary, Special and Alternative Provision. Wherever learning and teaching is taking place, YouTeachMe will add value to it.

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10
Oct

Luke Johnstone, PACK’D, Export Champion Interview

Luke Johnstone, Managing Director, PACK'D

Luke Johnstone, Managing Director, PACK’D

What difficulties have you encountered setting up your business?
The biggest difficulties have been navigating a new industry. It is both an advantage (as we have a unique and innovate approach) and a difficulty as we are often learning things for the first time. Mentoring and support from The Prince’s Trust has been a huge help.

What are the biggest trade and export challenges you face?
Entering new markets for the first time. Experienced mentors through CWF will be invaluable.

What are the most crucial things you have done to grow and develop your business?
Building our community of mentors through The Prince’s Trust, Virgin StartUp and CWF. Bringing strategic investors on board with experience growing Nakd, Chrysallis, MySale, Cardsave and Planet Organic.

How did the idea for your business come about?
A tennis scholarship was abruptly ended by injury but my passion for nutrition remained. Whilst working at the BBC I sought a way to make nutritious smoothies quickly and PACK’D Smoothie Kits were the solution.

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18
Sep

Karl Bond, Forest Gin, Export Champion Interview

Karl Bond, Director

What makes your Gin unique from everything else that is out there?
Forest Gin is the only gin in the world to have been awarded Two Separate Double-Gold Medals at the San-Francisco World Spirit Awards. We distill combinations of Organic, foraged and carefully sourced ingredients to create the spirit, before blending with fresh water from our own spring in the Peak District. These ingredients, combined with our English Porcelain bottle, really give our Gin unique qualities that we are very proud of.

Any good foraging tips that budding gin makers should be aware of?
Always get the landowners permission. Leave plenty for others. Never pick fruit below waist height (figure that one for yourselves!!)

How did the idea for your business come about?
We were home distillers. Making spirits & drinks for a bit of fun and our own enjoyment! It evolved from friends & family wanting to buy a bottle, to now being a very well respected spirits brand.

What difficulties have you encountered setting up your business?
Licencing and red-tape. There are very strict regulations in the UK for distilling.

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14
Sep

Shalom Lloyd, Naturally Tribal, Export Champion Interview

Shalom Lloyd

Shalom Lloyd, Managing Director

How did the idea for your business come about?
In 2014, I gave birth to a beautiful set of twins! One of my twins, Joshua, was covered in eczema from birth and I spent months combining lotions, creams, emollients, teas – you name it – to stop his ‘scratch until drawing blood’ dilemma. I tapped into my African heritage and started to mix raw, ingredients from Africa – the scientist in me took over, experimenting and testing. Using these natural ingredients and once I stumbled on the right formula, it miraculously only took three days for Joshua’s skin to become what it should have been at birth. Naturally Tribal Skincare was born out of this personal experience and experimenting. Through the combination of my African heritage mixed with an English twist, I solved my child’s skincare problem naturally WITHOUT CHEMICALS and felt like a ‘hero’ mum.

Today, we use Mother Nature’s gifts to create natural products, manufactured and tested in the UK with our ingredients ethically sourced, while supporting and empowering African women. We are supporting infrastructure to ensure quality and working conditions, particularly for the women of Essan, Niger State in Nigeria!

How did you hear about the CWF programme and what made you apply?
In April 2017, The Naturally Tribal Skincare Ltd Research & logistics Coordinator, Zantie O’Connell was sent an email from Royal Mail’s ‘Click & Drop Support’ team which was titled ‘Become a CommonwealthFirst Export Champion with Royal Mail’. We have outstanding innovative products and a great story to tell plus the benefits we would gain as an SME such as mentoring, training, profiling and branding to help our company access the 52 Commonwealth countries was too good to miss. Seeing this as a programme which aligns with our vision for the company, the team agreed to move forward with our application and we are certainly glad that we did!

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11
Sep

Mohammed Saleem Latif, ePortfolios Ltd, Export Champion Interview

Mohammed Saleem Latif

Mohammed Saleem Latif, Managing Director

How did you hear about the CWF programme and what made you apply?
I was looking to expand the business by incorporating teaching standards from countries apart from the UK when I came across the Commonwealth Standards Framework for Teachers & School Leaders. This led me to the CWIEC website which, in turn, took me to the Commonwealth First Export programme.

As I had an innovative solution that could potentially help 52 countries document and evidence their professional teaching standards on one platform, I had nothing to lose and very much to gain by becoming involved with Commonwealth First.

How did the idea for your business come about?
During teacher training we were required to submit an ePortfolio of evidence so that our School Mentor could assess our teaching performance and our University Tutor could judge whether to grant a teaching qualification. This was such a laborious process for all concerned that I decided to develop the online ePortfolio based on my own experience.

What difficulties have you encountered setting up your business?
Converting the ePortfolio idea into a working solution was the greatest challenge. Having achieved this, the next challenging task was finding, connecting with and convincing key decision makers in universities and government to adopt the solution.

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7
Sep

Sarah Holmes, Merrythought, Export Champion Interview

Sarah Holmes, Director

How did the idea for your business come about?
Business already established – founded in 1930 by Great Grandfather

What are the biggest trade and export challenges you face?
Production capacity and allocation of other resources/time
Product compliance and labelling requirements
Ensuring landed price competitiveness – shipping and duty costs
Intellectual property protection

What are the most crucial things you have done to grow and develop your business?
Invested in and improved internal systems and procedures
Improve product design and narrowed product ranges
Streamlined supply chain
Investment in PR and Social Media
Developed a corporate and bespoke service Read more

4
Sep

Ray Bird, Early Bird Ventures, Export Champion Interview

Ray Bird, Director

What are the biggest trade and export challenges you face?
One of the biggest challenges we face dealing virtually only online is credibility. Again, dealing with customers, who maybe on the other side of the world requires a great deal of trust. A benefit of our product is that a new customer can try our product for just a few pounds. In addition, our eBay shop has helped us to gain credibility further afield as the customer is covered by the ebay guarantees. Once the customer has tried our service & wants larger quantities or a more customised shopping experience, our office & our website serves them well, at their convenience.

How did the idea for your business come about?
20 years ago I helped a manufacturer of metal Sealing washers ‘break’ into the UK market, selling virtually exclusively to the larger wholesalers . However, times have changed: garages no longer focus on single make vehicles, car manufacturers have been bought and sold and many manufacturers install other manufacturers engines. The upshot of all these factors is that garages don’t know which parts they need, don’t necessarily need a large quantity of any one part as they now repair whatever comes through the doors that day, and finally don’t know how to get the parts quickly and efficiently. This is particularly true of our export markets, where even the main dealers don’t have the essential parts. This is where we help, offering an ecommerce solution, advice, guidance and delivery worldwide.

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31
Aug

Katherine Gubbins, Goodness Gracious Foods, Export Champion Interview

Katherine Gubbins, Founder

How did the idea for your business come about?
I felt we needed to improve the way we feed our babies and children – teach them, via their parents, about good food and the benefits food brings to us. Wellbeing and health for the family is key.

How did you hear about the CWF programme and what made you apply?
MY ITA – we export anyway and thought this would be a great opportunity, particularly with some of the countries included.

What difficulties have you encountered setting up your business?
Going up against the big customers with knowledge and vast experience of how to do it.

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