TRADITIONALLY the preserve of the largest companies, exporting is becoming increasingly accessible for small and medium-sized businesses in the UK. The falling costs of transporting goods and services has been a driver, but there are also government schemes aimed at helping SMEs expand internationally.
UK Export Finance – Also known as the Export Credits Guarantee Department, UK Export Finance is the official export credit agency for UK firms. The body can help by underwriting bank loans offered to foreign buyers of products and services from the UK, effectively taking on the risk of the loan, and increasing the likelihood that the bank will offer it in the first place. The government launched the Direct Lending Scheme in 2013, which offers loans directly rather than underwriting them. It was announced in the Budget in March that the scheme will be made permanent, with the funding doubling to £3bn. To find out more, go to: gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-export-finance
Passport to Export Service – UKTI offers this dedicated export capability assessment and support programme for SMEs. Delivered by one of UKTI’s International Trade Teams, the programme lasts 12 months, and includes a detailed assessment of your company’s readiness to export. It’s also possible to get matched funding of up to £1,000 through the export voucher scheme. gov.uk/passport-to-export-service
Overseas Market Introduction Service – Another UKTI offering, this service makes uses an international network of country experts, putting you in touch with key local contacts in the market you plan on entering. For £500 and upwards (costs are on a sliding scale depending on the amount of work required), you can get a full report identifying the likelihood of success and possible entry strategies. gov.uk/overseas-market-introduction-service