The prospect of trading or exporting abroad can be a daunting and seemingly unrealistic plan for many North East businesses.
This is why my role as NECC Access Programme manager has been brought about to dispel misconceptions and to spread the word that there is export support available to help develop businesses into overseas markets, with relative ease.
Many companies I speak to have had excellent support from UKTI services – expertise, funding and market intelligence from overseas commercial offices. I would urge anyone to consider them as part of their export development strategy.
However, there comes a point when a company needs to further develop their plans within their own resources. This is why our Access Programme Market Development Grant has been launched to assist North East companies to develop their market presence in the Brazilian, Russian and Indian markets, through a structured process and eradicate most funding issues.
A recent CBI report cited that only one in five UK SMEs export and of these businesses 11% are more likely to survive if they do. In addition, the UKTI states that exporting SMEs are 34% more productive in their first year than SMEs that don’t.
So why is it that UK businesses are so hesitant to explore overseas markets? Lack of internal resources to research and pursue opportunities seems to be the major factor. Within this includes a lack of knowledge about the opportunities available, misinformation about the challenges of trading abroad and risk analysis capability.
Brazil, Russia and India are markets with great potential, but in addition, have a range of challenging entry market requirements that can stretch both the resources and expertise of many local companies.
Small business managers lead demanding lives, already ploughing energy into their firm and jumping from one activity to another, and so researching a new market from afar can test resources. Larger corporations often have a team of internal specialists and consultants carrying out these arduous tasks.
There are also practical issues such as managing and stimulating an effective, sales team in a foreign land, language barriers, differing regulatory environments and tax laws that need to be explored and managing foreign exchange smoothly – all of which can be very taxing.
With all this comes the major sticking point – cost. Cost to fund travel when digital communication just won’t suffice, and cost to resource the research above to get things moving.
My response would be to capitalise on the Market Development Grant, a practical support to help companies address these challenges and develop the confidence to make the business decision to go for it.
The aim of the grant is to assist companies that want to either enter for the first time or expand their presence in one of these markets by providing financial assistance to appoint a suitably qualified export professional with hands-on experience to assist with future growth.
The grant is available to all North East companies who are already experienced exporters, but either do not possess the resources internally to develop these markets or are not yet in a position to employ the required export professional in their field.
The grant allows you to cover most aspects of discovering these new markets, including developing export strategies, market research, defining routes to market, assessing size of potential market, competitor analysis, sales and marketing strategy and identification of potential barriers to market entry.
As well as calling out to businesses to make use of this grant, the NECC is also encouraging qualified consultants to contact us so they can be added to our list of export professionals.
The grant helps companies looking to export to Russia, Brazil and India but there is also similar UKTI support for other overseas markets. The Market Development Grant will provide a maximum 50 percent ERDF funding on a match basis up to a maximum limit of £3,000 exclusive of VAT.
For further information on Market Development Grant funding contact Nynzi Maung on 0845 0768 391 or email Nynzi.firstname.lastname@example.org