4
Oct

Applications now open for fourth cohort of elite CommonwealthFirst SME programme

 CWF EC

100 companies to be selected in advance of Commonwealth Summit next April.

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.

22
May

Export Champions make new business connections in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore

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.

Read more

31
Mar

March Export Champion Interview Spotlight

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.

26
May

The Commonwealth: a ready export market

This unique club of 53 countries offers trading opportunities to SMEs – but the UK’s poor export performance to date highlights that support is needed

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