Responding to new market trends, networking and embracing digital technology are key to start-ups and small business enjoying export success in the 21st Century.
The good news for Kent companies is there is a wide range of support available on the doorstep to help grow new overseas trade.
The Kent & Medway Growth Hub Helpline is a one-stop shop for business advice and guidance with access to international specialists who can help with enquiries – ranging from starting out, to complying with specific export requirements. Visit www.kentandmedwaygrowthhub.org.uk or call 03333 602 300.
Kent businesses can also contact the Department for International Trade (DIT) South East’s Enquiry Hub via 0330 300 0012 or firstname.lastname@example.org for help with general export queries and referrals to DIT local and national programmes.
The Department’s Internationalisation Fund offers financial support for export development work, providing co-investment for activities such as market insight or adapting marketing materials for different target countries. You can read more about this fund and other offerings from DIT, and more, on the Kent County Council (KCC)-coordinated Kent International Business (KIB) website here
For those new to selling overseas and unsure where to start, or established but uncertain how to expand abroad, using this planning tool can help you map your way: www.kentinternationalbusiness.co.uk/home/kent-export-pathway
Kent County Council (KCC) lead for Economic Development, Derek Murphy, said: “Small and medium enterprises are key employers and contributors to the Kent and UK economy and, through exporting, generate jobs and innovation.
“The pandemic’s deep legacy, rising costs and new trading processes outside of the single market have created challenges for exporters. But companies are gaining in confidence and looking to break into new international markets to build resilience.
“The good news is there is lots of help at hand within Kent to help businesses grow through overseas trade, including by developing contacts and digital skills. I urge firms to take advantage of all the various support available and get help to grasp export opportunities.”
Also among the wide range of help on offer for Kent businesses are:
- Kent and Medway Business Fund interest-free loans: of between £100,000 and £500,000 to fund business capital investment. Find out more and apply at https://www.kent.gov.uk/business/business-loans-and-funding/kent-and-medway-business-fund/kent-and-medway-business-fund-loans A KMBF Small Business Boost, offering loans of between £26,000 and £99,000, is due to launch this summer. Visit this link for more details to help you prepare to apply: https://www.kmbf.co.uk
- Business grants of £500-£2000 from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership: click https://digital.wsxenterprise.co.uk to learn more about the funding and also ‘Adapting to Digital’.
Training and Networking
- Virtual Trade Missions: connecting Health and Life Science companies from the South East of England to opportunities in the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and Canada through the South East Export Development (SEED) project, funded by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership. Visit the KIB website for more.
- Virtual ‘pitch and match’ sessions, or exhibit online or in person at European trade shows and events, such as Medica 2022: participate in the EU-funded IMPULS project for Kent Health & Life Science companies by expressing an interest here https://www.kentinternationalbusiness.co.uk/impuls
- The Government’s dedicated hotline and online service for UK exporters with specific queries relating to trade with the EU: can be accessed via https://www.gov.uk/ask-export-support-team. The hotline brings together expertise and advice from different government departments including Trade (DIT), Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Business (BEIS).
Steve Samson, Kent County Council’s Trade Development Manager, said: “Exporting can bring huge benefits to local businesses. New markets in various parts of the world open up the potential for selling products year-round. Evening out demand across different countries also spreads risk and builds resilience.
“Against the backdrop of global economic uncertainty, breaking into new markets can take time and energy, but it can be made much easier by tapping into the excellent support available.
“We were encouraged by findings in a recent Kent Business School study that showed 11% of firms surveyed have used exporting as a strategy to build resilience and increase growth, or have started to export since the start of the pandemic.”
To see a full handy round up of all the support on offer for Kent’s exporters, visit: www.kentinternationalbusiness.co.uk/2022/05/23/where-can-i-get-help-with-exporting