Britain's fastest growing SMEs call for tailored government support to expand overseas

Mon 8 Nov 2021
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

small business exporter

Britain’s 500 fastest-growing firms want the Department for International Trade to offer tailored support to help them expand overseas.

New research from the ScaleUp Institute found that 57% of “scale-ups” – businesses growing at more than 20% a year for three years – already export but needed more support.

The Times reports that the companies want better introductions to buyers in overseas markets, more information on market opportunities, a single point of contact for scale-ups at DIT in the UK and overseas, and dedicated trade missions.

Resource and time poor

George May, managing director of Huntingdon-based firm Bio-bean, which recycles spent coffee beans, told the Times that his business wanted to open a factory in the Benelux region and that more trade support would be of “real value”.

“As a small scaling business, resource and time is always the constraint. If you have a short-cut it makes a big difference so you can focus on other areas that need your attention,” he said.

Budget boost

The recent budget saw the DIT budget enhanced with funds to streamline digital trade and £45m to support exports.

However, trade bodies criticised the scrapping of the Trade Access Programme earlier this year. This scheme provided grants to cover some costs for exporters to go to trade exhibitions abroad.

In response, the Federation of Small Businesses issued a 5-step plan in the summer calling for help with trade show access, including streamlining administration and increasing the level of coverage.

The CBI’s latest SME output research found that, while still growing, SME export orders in the three months leading up to October had slowed compared to the previous quarter, down from an 15% increase to just 6%.

International Trade Week

Next week, the DIT is running the first International Trade Week to support new exporters.

It will include business and sector led activities, showcasing events and workshops available to businesses across the country who are considering exporting for the first time.

The event will take place from 15-19 November across the UK, aiming to encourage UK businesses to export and sell to the world.