Kent International Business is an ‘umbrella programme’ which brings together various support initiatives which help local SMEs with internationalisation.
Kent International Business is an ‘umbrella programme’ which brings together various support initiatives and services which aim to help SMEs with internationalisation and exporting. It aims to encourage cooperation between support services and reduce confusion among SMEs.
KIB is led by Kent County Council and includes different local partner organisations; mainly business support organisations. The main programme beneficiaries are local SMEs.
The local partnership is the most important part of the programme; organisations with the same objective work together to boost international trade and provide opportunities for businesses to become more international. KIB brings together a range of core support export services as well as other activities which add value. The support is delivered within several strands:
1. Engaging with companies:
Raising awareness of the benefits of international trade through a website, newsletters, local business events and sponsoring local business awards
2. Incubating internationalisation: providing practical support for companies through targeted events, overseas market visits, trade missions and sector-focused networking events
3. Growing International business: helping Kent companies to increase foreign trade using Kent stands at international trade shows
KIB links to and supports a range of local, national & European policies..
KIB secured seed funding of €140K. KIB is mainly supported by core budgets & staff time of KIB partners but also access EU & national funds for added-value actions. Dedicated staff resources (a part time programme manager, project officer & admin officer) are needed to manage day today activities.
Evidence of success
We capture the following information to measure results including:
• No. of SMEs supported
• New business wins (values of new export orders/contracts)
The figures vary from year to year based on activities taking place. We recently organised an Interreg-funded visit to a German trade fair which helped 6 SMEs gain 283 leads between them resulting in 2 immediate new export contracts and a few months later, an SME creating 5 related jobs.
The main challenge for KIB is identifying suitable companies locally which have export potential and could benefit from help to enter overseas markets.
Funding is also a challenge as KIB has no core budget but relies on partners making non-financial contributions to run activities to help SMEs.
Potential for learning or transfer
Kent International Business (KIB) is a programme that could be replicated in different European regions to promote exporting and business internationalisation. The model is dependent on stakeholder engagement and a strong partnership approach which requires good day to day working relationships and regular communication to succeed. It is also essential to engage with businesses in order to be able to respond to evolving needs. The ability to put in place projects and support activities that respond to these needs and take advantage of emerging opportunities is also important in the KIB model.
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