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.