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
Why is Wire Belt successful in export?
Wire Belt is successful in export by concentrating on the key target markets (not a scattergun approach), recognising that entering and building a market takes effort, time (1-2 years) and use of the correct resources. Once we have identified a potential distributor working with them on a trial base (1 year) to see if they and Wire Belt are good fit.
The other important element of building a successful distributor is creating a jointly agreed business plan, product training, customer visits, clear understanding of the USP’s of the products and services, industry sector knowledge and commercial support with transnational and national groups and lastly understanding of the importance of customer service.
What markets have been recently successful and why?
Turkey has been seen by Wire Belt as a very strong market for our products, however the current distributor has not been performing in line with the known growth and market trends.
Wire Belt formally cancelled its distributor contract (we use the ICC contract) and have now appointed after further research of the market potential three distributors, these are focussed on three different channels.
CommonwealthFirst has recently returned from taking a delegation of our Export Champions led by Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council Chairman Lord Marland and the Chief Executive of Royal Mail Group, Moya Greene, to participate at the 11th Toronto Global Forum (TGF) in Canada. The TGF is a major annual business event organised by the International Economic Forum of the Americas.
CommonwealthFirst were invited to participate in the TGF that carried the theme of “Redefining Globalisation” during a year when both Canada and Ottawa are celebrating their 150th anniversary and the new Canada-EU Free Trade Agreement came into force.
Lord Marland said “I was incredibly impressed by the rapid development of Toronto in recent years. Toronto is on track to become one of the world’s leading commercial centres with a fantastic infrastructure to support innovation. Canada could play a leading role in supporting a greater focus on trade and investment within the Commonwealth.”
The intensive trade mission to Toronto included briefings with Councillor Michael Thompson from the City of Toronto, The Honourable Michael Chan, Minister for International Trade Ontario and host of Canadian leaders, trade organisations, accelerators and research institutions. The programme even included a Beethoven Concert by the world leading Toronto Symphony Orchestra at the Roy Thomson Hall.
In addition to helping our Export Champions to do business in Canada this was an opportunity for CommonwealthFirst to strengthen its ties with the Canadian, Ontario and Toronto Governments, and raise the profile of the Commonwealth amongst the Canadian business community.
The visit to Toronto, Canada was the third SME trade mission and follows successful visits to Malaysia/Singapore and the inaugural venture last November to Delhi as part of the India-UK Tech Summit, attended by UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
UK SMEs can apply to become part of the fourth cohort of CommonwealthFirst Export Champions through the website: www.commonwealthfirst.org. Applications close on Monday 4th December.
How did the idea for your business come about?
SAM Labs was started with the intention of inspiring and empowering children to be prepared for a rapidly changing world by making technology skills accessible and engaging for all.
How do your products integrate/compliment with existing STEM toys like LEGO?
SAM is designed to work with other STEM products and seamlessly integrates with LEGO. The kits come with lego connectors that allow you to bring alive your LEGO creations.
What is your most popular product and why do you think that is?
Our most popular product is the Curious kit. This is because of the great proposition, gamified app that takes you through building awesome cars, and the book of crazy cool ideas that shows you how you can unleash your imagination with SAM!
What difficulties have you encountered setting up your business?
All of the typical difficulties that a startup faces! There are tremendous benefits of being in London, with everything from access to talent, governmental support from both the national and city levels, to financing options, being world class. But even with all of these things stacked in your favour, there are countless challenges to be faced every day. When developing a highly innovative product, there are technical challenges involved with developing and producing your offering. We have also had to build understanding and acceptance in the marketplace, which takes time. Lastly, navigating legal and structural challenges is always quite daunting, especially when exporting.
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 has returned from its highly successful trade mission to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, which saw our talented delegation of outstanding UK SMEs make new business and invaluable connections within the ASEAN region. The thirteen-person delegation was led by Richard Burge, the newly appointed Chief Executive of Commonwealth Enterprise & Investment Council with Export Champions representing industries of manufacturing, defense, health, technology, education, science, engineering and consulting.
The intensive programme commenced with a first stop in Kuala Lumpur where the Export Champions received a briefing at British High Commission before going on to meet the British Malaysian Chamber of Commerce, Malaysia Investment Development Authority (MIDA) and take part in a on-site visit to Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC). They then met with Mr Zaky Moh, Senior Director at the SME Development Corporation before meeting with Hon Mustapa Mohamed, Malaysia’s Minister of International Trade and Industry.
This month we learn about the home of ‘The World’s Original Marmalade Awards’, fibreglass composite structures, innovative fire safety solutions and hospital and healthcare medical lighting.
SMEs drive entrepreneurialism, promote competition and innovation, and are in many ways the backbone of the UK economy. But, when it comes to the export market, they are collectively failing to maximise their potential with respect to exporting abroad. The UK performs poorly when it comes to SME-generated exports compared to exporting countries of comparable size. And it is estimated that anywhere between 25,000 and 150,000 currently non-exporting firms in the UK could, and should, be doing so. Read more