Wolverhampton to host global growth workshops for would-be SME exporters

A series of workshops aimed at West Midlands businesses that want to start exporting their goods or services are to begin later this month.

Organised by West Midlands Chambers of Commerce’s ERDF SME International Growth Project, the You Can Export series includes four half-day sessions that cover: market research and selection; routes to market; export pricing; and how to internationalise your website. Businesses can attend one or all four free workshops, which are being held at the Hotel Novotel, Union Street, Wolverhampton city centre.

Andy Smith, International Relationships Manager for the SME International Growth Project, said the workshops are ideal for companies that have little or no experience of exporting but are looking to spread their wings globally by learning about the fundamental topics of exporting.

“Many businesses don’t realise how much help and support they can receive, so either put off their export plans or struggle on their own when they start trading outside of the UK for the first time,” he said.

“However, we offer a huge range of assistance to businesses and can guide them, provide advice and help them with everything from the documentation to digital and from financial support for overseas visits to putting them in contact with our Embassy experts.

“SMEs based in the West Midlands can attend these workshops free of charge and are the ideal starting point if they want to dip their toes into the export market. There will also be opportunities to speak to an array of advisers and experts who can support them on their journey.”

Tuesday, June 26
Market research and selection. This workshop is designed to help companies prioritise overseas markets using market research and will cover topics such as modelling for effective and time-saving desk research using the internet; important factors to consider when visiting an overseas market to conduct research; and how to select and commission professional research.

Wednesday, July 11
Routes to market. This will cover topics including the different ways that businesses can sell into an overseas market common pitfalls and advice on how to avoid them

Tuesday, July 24
Export pricing. This workshop will focus on a range of topics, including the importance of local customs with regard to pricing; negotiation; establishing contractual terms; identifying alternative pricing strategies; and increasing the opportunity for export profitability. This workshop will also introduce services offered by the Department for International Trade (DIT) and UK Export Finance.

Tuesday, August 7
How to internationalise your website. This will be run by a DIT digital adviser who will advise businesses on how to develop their websites so that they have international appeal. Participants will learn how to localise an e-commerce website; how to use online tools to gain market insights; and how to use social media with an international audience.

The workshops start at 0930 and end at 1230. Spaces are limited, so to secure a free place, visit http://youcanexportseries.eventbrite.com


Money money money – it’s at the heart of every business and the word on many people’s minds. It can be the make or break of a business so it’s important to minimise any risks when dealing with exporting.

That’s why we’re revealing our tips on exporting finance – including the risks involved and any funding that could be available to you. Go on, open up a whole new world and go global.

Which currency?

When exporting from the UK to another country, it can be daunting figuring out exact payment details. There are many things to consider such as which currency you’ll invoice in and any additional charges. That’s why it’s important to tackle this subject early on.

Wavering exchange rates can be troublesome when it comes to receiving payments – with the rates are constantly changing, how do you know how much you’ll get paid? To make your payments a bit more secure and stable, why not set the exchange rate on the day the payment is scheduled? This way, you’ll know there’ll be no further fluctuations and you’ll know exactly how much you’ll pocket.

Additional charges can cover any losses you may have encountered from rising and falling exchange rates. You can also invoice in pounds – but this might make you less competitive to the buyer.

When will you be paid?

There is nothing worse than late payments. But luckily, there are a few ways to deal with international transfers to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Payment before shipping is a safe option – especially if you are dealing with a new buyer. It’s a great way to establish trust, and once you’ve received the money you can focus on transporting the products abroad.

You can also take payments after you’ve shipped products, but this option is probably best if you have been dealing with the buyer for a while and are able to trust them.

But what if a buyer is unable to provide payment at any given time? This is where letters of credit come in. A letter of credit is basically a guarantee from the buyer’s bank that they’ll pay on behalf of the buyer if they’re unable to do so themselves.

This offers maximum security to both the buyer and the seller – the only downside is that there may be a longer wait to get paid due to processing. Find out more about letters of credit here.

What funding is available?

Confused about funding? Help is at hand. We want to make sure your business will succeed – that’s why there’s tons of financial help available for exporting businesses. Your bank should be able to help you with things such as loans and guarantees but, if not, you can apply for government funded finance from UKEF (UK Export Finance). They offer similar services to your bank, such as:

– capital loans
– payment insurance
– Guarantees

WMIT also delivers the SME International Growth Project. This is a European Regional Development Funded (ERDF) programme, which aims to support small and medium sized businesses by helping them to grow internationally. Eligible businesses can also apply for a match-funded grant of £3,000 to support their export plans.

There are loads of avenues to explore with exporting. With so many possibilities and so much help available, what are you waiting for? Get started by contacting us on info@tradewm.co.uk or 0345 222 0159.

Ready to expand your international operations? There are plenty of people who could be a crucial part of your exporting team. The right squad can help bring in the profits and make that exporting process just a little bit easier. But how does it all come together?

In this post, we’re having a look at two of the most popular ways to build your team – and exactly how they can help you out.

Taking your first steps
Before you begin, it’s important to have a solid export plan. This includes what your product is, how you’ll market it and any resources you’ll need. This is where staffing comes in. You want the best people being key players in the success of your business. Here’s who can help you out:

No we’re not talking about undercover secret agents. We’re talking about local sales people in the foreign market that you’re selling to. Chances are, a good agent will be able to provide the right knowledge at the right time.

They’ll be a dab hand at the local language and have a good idea of the market and what competitors are doing. You’ll be able to save a heap of money as you won’t have to hire translators or provide excessive training.

Just make sure whoever you decide to work with has solid references from other exporters they represent. They’re paid via commission, so hitting sales targets and receiving extra payments can motivate them to meet your needs.

Another route you can take, is working with a distributor. They’re slightly different because they buy your product at a discounted price and sell it to customers at a higher price.

Although they’ll be getting a discount, your business is the one that will pocket the most savings. Distributors also handle any after-sales so you can focus on other things such as manufacturing and don’t have to spend on things like after-sales staff.

But where can you find them? Our International Trade Advisers can help you find trusted Agents and distributors and you can also find them through networking events or through companies in the same sector.

It’s important to ask agents and distributors for references, so you know they are trustworthy and have relevant experience. Plus, any negotiations agreed with external staff should be in writing – you can get legal advice to help you with this.

Finding the way that’s right for you
We can help you build your exporting dream team. With exporting tips, advice and support our International Trade Advisers are here to make recommendations tailored to your business. To start your international adventure or build up your exporting portfolio, talk to us today on info@tradewm.co.uk or 0345 222 0159.

With summer approaching, it’s important to keep hydrated in the heat. Across the globe, water will be an essential when temperatures start to rise. But in some countries there’s still a high demand for water that’s clean and easily accessible. The solution could be right here, in the UK.

There’s a huge need for services that can help improve water systems abroad – and plenty of British companies that can lend a hand. Think you can offer your skills to some water-based projects? In this blog post, we reveal where you can make a difference.

Turkey – water treatment facilities
Supervision and technical assistance is needed in both the Giresun and Sirnak provinces. This includes training staff and providing support for the construction of a new wastewater treatment facility. Apply now to help make a difference to these communities.

Peru – water services for technical irrigation
Do you have experience in working on technical irrigation projects? A large district municipality in central Peru is looking for water irrigation services for multiple communities. The goal is to increase agriculture and maintain the stunning landscapes – perfect if environmental projects are your bag.

Burma – water quality testing kits
An organisation in Burma needs water quality testing kits. It’s also looking for user training, so that these handy kits can be used by the people themselves – making a big change to their lives. Snap up this opportunity if you’d like to help more people drink cleaner, safer water.

Turkey – non-native invasive pest species
Another one for Turkey, this time technical services are needed to control non-native invasive pest species in water and on land. They’re affecting activities such as fishing, swimming and walking. Apply now to defeat these pesky pests and help residents get back to the things they enjoy.

Brazil – sewage technical and advisory services
A major bank wants to develop partnerships with waste water consultancies. If operation, planning and management is right up your street, this opportunity could be for you. The bank wants a variety of technical services, so find out how you can cash in.

Seize a rewarding new challenge today
Inspired to make a difference? Apply using the links above and visit our site for hundreds more exciting exports you can get involved with.

UK food exports are at an all time high, with more British manufactured food products being exported than ever before. Our love for all things food is mirrored by Israel, where there are fantastic food opportunities just waiting to be eaten up.

One of the major reasons figures have surged for food exports is because of a growing global appetite for seafood. It’s readily available to us in the UK, but not so easy to find in Israel.

To meet demand, one of the largest distributors of frozen fish in Israel is looking to import salmon to supply to supermarkets. Sounds fin-tastic to us.

Ice cream products
A refreshing ice lolly is a staple for a sunny day during British summertime and seems to be a favourite in Israel. For example, this local importer in Israel wants loads of goodies like ice cream bars and frozen cakes for the season. How about that for a sweet opportunity?

Frozen fruit and veg
A local company in Israel is looking for pre-packed frozen fruit and veggies to turn into delicious smoothies – the perfect healthy drink to feel refreshed in the heat. Think you can help?

Vegan products
This opportunity to provide cheese and meat substitutes for a local company in Israel is your way to tap into this on-trend, niche market. But it doesn’t end there, there’s also an opportunity to export vegetarian snacks as well. The ever-growing vegan and vegetarian industry is sure to bring in the profits for your business. Yum.

Baking products
Flour, eggs and sugar are just three of the things on this commercial baking company’s import list. They want a multitude of ingredients to provide to coffee shops and patisseries. Think this opportunity would be a piece of cake? Get cracking and apply now.

Are you a foodie business looking for new opportunities?
If any of these tasks sound appetising to you, apply using the links above. You can find loads more opportunities similar to these here. What are you waiting for? It’s your time to go global.

With UK exports to the Middle East growing by 56% in the past decade, West Midlands businesses are being encouraged to tap into the potential of trading with Gulf markets.

Start your export journey to the Middle East

A Meet the Experts event has been organised for Tuesday, June 5, where companies from the West Midlands region – which covers the counties of Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and the West Midlands – can explore export opportunities in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Specialist advisers from oil and gas, life sciences and healthcare, creative industries – in particular, architectural and design services/technology, as well as infrastructure and the construction sectors will be at the event, which is organised by West Midlands Chambers of Commerce’s ERDF SME International Growth Project.

However, cross-sector advisers will also be on hand to discuss export opportunities with experienced exporters from other sectors.

The Gulf region is acknowledged to be a crucial area of export growth, with UK companies selling £22.7 billion worth of goods to the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries in 2016 – more than to China and more than twice as much as to India.

Andy Smith, International Relationships Manager for the SME International Growth Project, said: “UK exports to the wider Middle East region have grown by 56% in the past decade, with further growth predicted. We want to ensure that West Midlands companies increase their share of this success.

“We’ll be providing an overview of key areas of opportunity, including major projects such as Expo 2020 and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, to demonstrate how these translate into real-time opportunities for Midlands exporters.

“Alongside a whole host of visiting market experts that can offer advice, our locally based international trade advisers from the Department of International Trade and UK Export Finance will be on hand to help businesses to boost their exports.”

The day-long event, which is to be held at Pinsent Mason LLP, 55 Colmore Row, Birmingham, will also feature sector-specific roundtable discussion groups covering healthcare and life sciences; creative industries, looking at architectural practices, design, experiential tourism, smart cities and technology; infrastructure and construction; oil and gas. A session will also be held for other sectors.

In the afternoon, West Midlands businesses from any sector can also book 20-minute one-to-one meetings with representatives from the British Centres for Business (UAE) and Arabian Enterprise Incubators LLC (Saudi Arabia), which are local delivery partners for the Department of International trade (DIT) in those markets.

The day-long event is free to attend,, but businesses wishing to do so must complete and submit a simple online form for SME International Growth Project records. To request a place and/or book one-to-one meetings, visit: https://gulftour18.eventbrite.co.uk

To find out more about the ERDF SME International Growth Project, visit goo.gl/1jYuES

More than 20 West Midlands companies have made their first steps towards trading with countries in South East Asia after meeting export experts who flew in from the region.

Trade advisers from (left): Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia in Birmingham for the Fast-Track Your Growth in South East Asia event

The Fast-Track Your Growth in South East Asia event saw more than 70 one-to-one meetings take place in Birmingham yesterday (May 3 2018) between a wide range of local companies and trade advisers from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Organised by the ERDF SME International Growth Project and Britain in South East Asia (BiSEA), the event was hailed a success as the experts said a number of businesses were already in a good position to start – or grow – their exports in the next financial year.

Peter Rimmer, executive director of the British Business Group Vietnam, said: “It has been a really useful event, seeing a good selection of clients, some who are very ready to start trading, while others will need a little longer to begin.”

Olivia Widen, of the British Chamber of Commerce Singapore, said: “The UK’s key strengths are in areas such as education, technology, healthcare, aerospace and renewable energy. There’s a misconception about the difficulties of accessing the South East Asia markets, but it is far easier than China, for example.”

Andy Smith, International Relationships Manager for the ERDF SME International Growth Project, said: “Local businesses are really opening up to the possibilities in the South East Asia region, which is the fastest-growing in the world. We were pleased to see so many companies from many sectors who have the ambition to see what opportunities there are.

“There’s no substitute for speaking to the trade advisers from the regions because they have the expertise and contacts to help them get on the right route for exporting.”

To find out more about the ERDF SME International Growth Project, visit goo.gl/1jYuES


A series of masterclasses aimed at getting businesses in Herefordshire and Worcestershire confident enough to export their goods and services is being launched in Hereford.

Funded by ERDF SME International Growth Project and organised by the Department for International Trade (DIT) and West Midlands Chambers of Commerce, the three half-day masterclasses will be headed by a specialist trainer in international business strategies. There is no cost to eligible businesses attending.

The first takes place on Wednesday, May 30 and will focus on how to increase export sales. It will include techniques to upsell to existing international clients, how to identify new markets and build brand awareness, as well as mitigating risks and using a range of channels to sell.

The second takes place on Tuesday, June 5 and will examine how companies can pitch their business to an international audience, looking at business style, culture and market, using the gov.uk Export Opportunities platform, and how to make the most of Department for International Trade networks and overseas contacts.

The third masterclass on Tuesday, July 10 is about the eight steps to successful international negotiation skills, negotiation, planning and how to improve the outcome of negotiations.

Andy Smith, International Relationships Manager for SME International Growth Project,  said: “More often than not, businesses need a guiding hand when it comes to having a strategic plan for export growth because there’s a step up from being reactive when an enquiry comes in from really planning to grow the business’s overseas markets.

“Our masterclasses can put businesses on the right path towards exporting, give them the confidence they need and also provide vital information on where they can get DIT support.”

Eligible businesses can sign up for masterclasses relevant to their needs. The sessions will be hosted by Richard Jeffrey, of Business Navigators, at Hereford Business Solutions Centre, Skylon Court, Hereford.

For further details and to book, visit https://exportgrowthherefordworcester.eventbrite.co.uk to select which sessions you would like to book.

About European Business Solutions

Based at Warwick Science Park, at the University of Warwick, European Business Solutions (EBS) was launched in 1991 to help companies set up in the UK or support them if they wanted to export goods and services here.

It works exclusively with foreign-owned businesses in the

UK and provides specialist business and administration support. The multilingual team of seven works closely with Embassies as well as the Department for International Trade (DIT) to help it access new markets.


The challenge

l-r: Martin Williams EBS Carolina Fernandes of DIT in Argentina, Tom Redfern of the London based solicitors Redfern Legal

EBS was keen to expand its services outside of Europe and had set itself challenging targets. After receiving a growing number of enquiries from businesses based in Latin America countries, it decided to focus its efforts on this market. Because the company had no connections with businesses there, it needed to start from the beginning – and that meant seeking support from DIT to enable it to visit the region and set up meetings with potential business clients.


How DIT helped

Working closely with its dedicated international trade adviser (ITA), EBS discovered that it was eligible for European Region Development Fund (ERDF) match funding that would help to fund its fact-finding mission. After applying for the funding, it received £2,000 – 50% of the costs of travelling to Argentina and Chile.

Martin Williams, founder and MD of EBS, said: “It’s very easy to email but nothing will replace actually speaking someone face to face if you want to do business with them. When we found out that we had got the ERDF funding, it helped us to make the decision about developing new markets and go out there. It was still a reasonable financial commitment for a small company as ours but we knew we should go for it.

Prior to a five-day visit to Argentina and Chile, it liaised with the DIT in Argentina, securing 32 face-to-face meetings, a speaking spot at a seminar for law firms that was taking place, and a meeting at an event that was organised in partnership with Santander.

Martin added: “We’d already worked with the Government departments over the years and had a good reputation in our market, so we kept those connections when the Department for International Trade was formed.

“DIT staff are excellent advisers and facilitators, but you cannot expect them to do all the work for you. This isn’t a free ride; you have to put in the effort yourself.”


The result

EBS met a number of companies that were already looking to set up in the UK, but hesitated over the logistics, as well as businesses that were in the process of launching here. Following their meetings, EBS is now working with firms in the legal, investment, fashion, film and retail sectors to help them open in the UK. It is also actively following up other leads.

“We provide a practical solution to these businesses and reduce their risk, so for those who were hesitating, meeting with us helped to push them over the line,” said Martin.

“We got our money back within six weeks and believe we will reap up to ten times that of the cost of the trip. Not only that, we have helped to create inward investment in the UK, which means employment opportunities and people paying taxes.”


For our latest blog series we’re delving deeper into the minds of some exceptional entrepreneurs. We’ll find out what inspires them to drive their ideas forward, how they manage different aspects of their business and their journey to international success.

In this post we catch up with Maxine Laceby, founder of ‘drinkable skincare’ range Absolute Collagen. She reveals how she thrives working with family and why she’s working with DIT to take her business to the next level.

From a flash of inspiration to a skincare revolution
Maxine Laceby makes the creation of her brand sound like a breeze. She says: “I simply asked myself what I wanted as a consumer. Maximum collagen, minimum dose, minimum effort and minimum price. Fast forward two years and Absolute Collagen was born.”

What’s clear, however, is that Absolute Collagen’s success is actually down to Maxine’s incredible determination and entrepreneurial spirit. Although it’s hard to believe the business began life in Maxine’s kitchen.

She says: “My journey to turning 50 saw me looking at what I was putting into my body. I started making bone broth, cooking up big vats of pigs’ trotters and chicken feet in my kitchen. Drinking it had an incredible impact on my skin and I had an amazing sense of wellbeing.

“After research, I discovered it was the collagen in the bone broth that was making me shine. Once I shared my secret with friends, I became known as the local collagen dealer. My friends were almost knocking my door down to get their hands on my booty!”

A beauty brand that’s more than skin deep
After sourcing suppliers and perfecting her unique marine collagen formula, Maxine launched the range. Absolute Collagen has since garnered a passionate following, made up of thousands of customers. It’s their praise that Maxine values most.

She says: “My biggest personal achievement since launching my product has been hearing people say ‘Absolute Collagen has changed my life’. It’s more than just a beauty product.

“We have reviews from people whose joint pain has subsided or their hair is growing thicker. We’ll continue to be different and blaze a trail or two. In fact, we recently became the first company to bring out a ‘beauty supplement’ for men.”

Turning a venture into a family business
Another positive experience for Maxine has been bringing her daughters on-board to help her run the business. She says: “The best thing about being part of a family business is allowing my children to explore and grow. I love watching them developing their business acumen and knowing that we have each other’s backs.”

But allowing for growth means accepting the risk of mistakes being made. This doesn’t phase Maxine – she encourages her daughters to embrace their mistakes. She says: “Mistakes are inevitable and part of business. We’re all learning on the job and if you want your children to push themselves, you have to allow them to make mistakes. It’s how we all learn.”

When it comes to creating a balance between work and family time, Maxine believes in the power of ‘doing nothing’. She says: “It’s important to make time to not talk about business. I also try to pick good times to discuss business with my daughters, not when they have friends over or they’re chilling on the sofa. Doing nothing is important too.”

Looking to the future with the help of DIT
Maxine’s next goal is to grow the business strategically. She says: “We want to keep growing in the UK and, with support from DIT, we’re looking at opportunities in Saudi, UAE and China. It’s important to me that once we establish a presence in another country, we ensure all systems are working before moving on to the next country.”

When asked what aspect of DIT’s help she finds most valuable, Maxine’s answer is clear. She says: “Knowledge. Knowledge in understanding protocols in other countries, tariffs, pricing, our position in different markets, cultural differences and expectations. They’ve helped me to fully understand my obligations and duties, and advised me how to internationalise the website. It doesn’t get better than that.”

To see what’s next for Absolute Collagen, take a look at the blog. And if Maxine has inspired you to become the next exporter-extraordinaire, get in touch today.