South Yorkshire companies urged to use overseas business networks

Businesses across the Sheffield City Region are being urged to use the Overseas Business Network (OBN) to boost exports.

A series of events with representatives from the OBN are being launched by South Yorkshire International Trade Centre (SYITC), with the first in Sheffield earlier this week.

The Overseas Business Network initiative, created by Prime Minister David Cameron in 2012, aims to transform the support available to businesses looking to grow through exports.

It is made up of representatives of 41 countries from around the world tasked with helping businesses enter new markets, find customers and offer guidance on international trade.

SYITC is bringing key officials from the countries to Sheffield to meet with businesses in the city region through a series of ‘Meet and Build’ events at its offices within the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce.

At the first event more than 50 people attended, including Vince Cunningham from China Britain Business Council, Chris Wren and Dhini Puspitasari of the British Chamber in Indonesia, Chris Bush of the British Slovak Business Centre, Steve Toogood and Caroline Erskine of the UK India Business Council, along with Jennifer Hainsworth from the British Chamber in Singapore.

Nick Patrick, international trade manager at SYITC, said: “The events provide an opportunity for companies in the Sheffield City Region to meet with the Overseas Business Network and vice-versa.

“The OBN is a fantastic free initiative which helps make personal introductions to key contacts around the world. I am looking to meet representatives from all 41 markets so when we have a business in the Sheffield City Region looking to expand into another country we can put them in touch with the right person there to help make that process as smooth as possible.

“These individuals are located across the world tasked with helping businesses in the Sheffield City Region to export to these markets. Please put them to use.

“With support from all the Chambers of Commerce, UKTI, South Yorkshire International Trade Forum and Creative Sheffield, we can provide all the necessary assistance for businesses to grow their exports.”

Lorraine Holt is the regional co-ordinator for Yorkshire and Humber within the Overseas Business Network initiative. She said: “The Government wants to double UK exports to £1trillion by 2020 and they see the OBN as a critical element to helping business grow existing markets and create new routes into international trade.

“The network provides practical business-to-business support and guidance on their relevant market, preparing businesses to enter new regions, as well as offering access to customers, distributors and suppliers.”

The OBN initiative is a partnership between all the British Chambers of Commerce, UKTI and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

SYITC is staging a second ‘Meet and Build’ event on July 18 with representatives from Chile, Columbia, Mexico, Morocco and Brazil all attending. It’s free to attend, but delegates need to register by contacting SYITC on 0114 201 8888, email [email protected] or visit

For more information about the Overseas Business Network initiative visit


Pictured (left to right): Vince Cunningham, DhiniPuspitasari, Chris Bush, Chris Wren, Nick Patrick, Lorraine Holt, Steve Toogood, Jennifer Hainsworth and Caroline Erskine.

Notes to editors:

British Chamber of Commerce in Indonesia
Indonesia has a population of more than 245million people with an ever growing middle-class. However, it can be a complex market to break into with a changing regulatory system. Businesses are recommended to look at a long-term strategy of three to five years to build key relationships before seeing the benefits. The OBN can provide practical, street-wise advice on the reality of exports within Indonesia

British Chamber of Commerce in Singapore
International trade with Singapore is now well established, but the British Chamber in Singapore can be a vital contact to use when expanding into the South East Asia region. The Chamber can open access to business networks in a variety of countries as the region continues to see an increase in the number of middle class population looking for quality products.

British Slovak Business Centre
Provides support to access markets in Eastern Europe countries, including Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and Bosnia. By having just one contact for all seven countries, provides an easy link for businesses. The region is becoming an important logistical area for businesses accessing Europe and Asia. It also offers an economical opportunity with flights to the region only two hours long.

China Britain Business Council (CBBC)
China’s economy continues to grow at 7.5 per cent per annum, but offers an ever-changing market. With a middle-class population of more than a quarter of a billion people, there are many opportunities for businesses. Consumers and companies in China now want higher-end, quality and bespoke products. Enforcement of intellectual property continues to improve and the OBN offers an opportunity to gain guidance and contacts in the region before needing to travel to China. Also, the CBBC is seeing a huge growth in Chinese investment in UK, with more inward investment in the last 18 months than in the last 30 years.

UK India Business Council
The OBN is well connected with India and has established a number of business centres across the country to help companies increase research capabilities and provide office space when required. India’s new government is more business focused with interest in the British Brand increasing amongst the affluent population.

UK India Business Council (UKIBC)

Released on behalf of the South Yorkshire International Trade Centre by HR Media Ltd. For further information please contact Steve Hutton on 0114 252 7771 or email [email protected]. Alternatively, visit

Topics: Getting Started
Export Action Plan