(Photos from the WTO Public Forum 2018 photo gallery may be reproduced provided attribution is given to the WTO and the WTO is informed. Photos: © WTO/Jay Louvion)
Open to Export hosted its inaugural international ‘Export Action Plan’ competition in Geneva as part of the WTO Pubic Forum. Following eight previous UK competitions, the ‘Open to Export International Business Awards’ were the broadest iteration yet, featuring finalists from Peru, Vietnam, Algeria, Scotland, Zambia, Belize, Mongolia, Macedonia, Trinidad & Tobago, Armenia, St Kitts, and Jordan.
The Most Inspiring Competition Yet
As with the UK competitions, SMEs were invited to submit their completed ‘Export Action Plans’ using our online tool. The best planners were then invited to pitch their international strategies for the chance to win a cash prize – except this time there was a significant twist. The cash prize was $5000 and the location for the final was Geneva, at the World Trade Organization’s showpiece annual public outreach event. Open to Export has now exported its own competitions!
Open to Export, with the Institute, were joined throughout the Public Forum by many of the finalists in what was an eye-catching hub of excitement and discussion. The finalists were invited to bring along samples of their products, and as such OTE was thrilled to be showcasing Vietnamese and Mongolian natural soaps, Scottish marine biology inspired fashionwear, Algerian chemical-free pesticides, Zambian honeys and more.
Given the international flavour and the broader economic backgrounds and contexts involved, the level of inspiration we derive from the finals has now reached a new level. With Jordanians employing Syrian refugees in tote bag manufacturing, Zambian women gaining employment and training in honey-making, entrepreneurs looking to put Macedonia and Mongolia on the export map, and a strong current of environmentally conscious products and ideas on show, this OTE final truly showcased the impact that global trade can have in making the world more diverse, equal, environmental, and prosperous.
And the Winner is…
As ever there could only be one winner and the heavyweight judging panel had an incredibly hard decision to make. On the panel were Yi Xiaozhun (Deputy Director General of the WTO), Chris Southworh (Secretary General of ICC UK), Arne Mielken (Young President of the IOE&IT), Nicholas Niggli (Director General for Economic Development, Research and Innovation, Republic and State of Geneva), and Shaun Lake (Senior Adviser: E-Learning at the International Trade Centre). The final, once again, was compered by Director General of the IOE&IT, Lesley Batchelor OBE.
And after a long day of pitches on Thursday 4th October 2018, the winner announced was Dytech Limited, run by the ‘honeyman’ from Zambia, Alan Chanda. His delectable product range impressed the judges, while his company’s scope for employing and training staff (40% of whom are women) to fund them to have better living situations and opportunities was truly inspiring.
Truth be told, however, any of the finalists would have been an inspiring choice. Each of them will win a free membership with the Institute of Export & International Trade, while the two runners up – Hot Mama’s Belize (pepper sauce producers) and Lhamour (skincare products from Mongolia) also won free membership with the International Chamber of Commerce.
Institute of Export & International Trade Recognised as ‘Small Business Champions’
The ‘Open to Export International Business Awards’ were launched in May this year, after the Institute’s proposal to run an international version of the competition was accepted by the World Trade Organisation and the International Chamber of Commerce as part of the ‘WTO-ICC Small Business Champions Initiative’. Upon the completion of the competition, the Institute were announced as ‘Small Business Champions’ by the Deputy Director General of the WTO, Yi Xiaozhun.
WTO Deputy Director-General Yi said:
“I would like to congratulate the Institute of Export and International Trade on the completion of their project. Developing the skills of SMEs and giving them the necessary guidance is essential if we want them to increase their participation in international trade. I would also wish to congratulate all the finalists for the great ideas they have presented today.”
Lesley Batchelor, Director General of the IOE&IT, former CEO of OTE and innovator behind the Export Action Plan tool, said:
“Who would have thought in 2015, when we created the Export Action Plan tool, that under three years later we’d be delivering it to SMEs all around the world. These finalists have been a fantastic testament to themselves and the benefits of coming up with a coherent export plan. We are immensely proud to be named Small Business Champions and have loved working with the WTO and ICC on the awards. Congratulations to Dytech Limited and all the finalists – you are all inspirations”.
Andean Beauty: exporter of salt-based soaps – Peru
Andean Beauty is a company that, working alongside families in the community of Maras in Cusco, seeks to share healthcare products with the world.
Be Bio: bio soap producer – Viet Nam
Be Bio’s mission is to bring natural and organic products to private firms who care about Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Consumption. Their products strictly obey the need to be natural and non-harmful to the environment.
Bit Bait Infinity: organic pesticide producer – Algeria
Bit Bait Infinity’s innovative pesticide products are the first in the world to be invented free of chemicals. They are ecologically friendly with 0% industrial chemicals in the active ingredients, and 0% toxic chemicals included.
Crùbag: fashion inspired by marine biology – Scotland
Inspired design from the exploration of the ocean. Crùbag is a new Scottish ethical brand with a purpose, heart and passion for the environment.
Dytech Limited: honey producers – Zambia
Dytech Limited is a highly innovative agribusiness company. Under the band 9TM , Dytech produces honey from the wild flowering mambo forests of Zambia, processes and packages it.
For the Record: vinyl clock exporters – Trinidad and Tobago
For The Record Ltd. (FTR) specialize in unique, handmade, customizable clocks made from upcycled vinyl records. Established in 2016, they are a virtual establishment priding themselves in their ability to engage clients and make them a part of the creative process, while providing stellar customer service and a superior product.
Hot Mama’s Belize Ltd.: pepper sauce products – Belize
Hot Mama’s Belize is an agro-processor and manufacturer that produces premium quality products and working closely with small farmers and farmer groups to ensure a consistent supply of high-quality produce and peppers.
Lhamour (Natural Essentials LLC): manufacturer of skin care products – Mongolia
Lhamour is committed to making a positive change in Mongolia and around the world, every step of our way, starting from the raw materials they use and where they source them, to employment of the marginalized and giving back to the communities and the environment.
Macedonia-Export: advertising and marketing services – former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Macedonia-Export is a unique type of company specialized in branding and export. They serve as an international trade intermediary that represents Macedonian manufacturers in selected export markets.
Old Bridge: Winery – Armenia
Old Bridge started as a family business in 1998, where everybody knows the importance of their role. They established their own vineyards, taking small steps while trying to act creatively, also paying attention to every detail to ensure the best quality in their reserve wines.
Sugar Town Organics: manufacturer of beauty and wellness organic products – Saint Kitts and Nevis
Sugar Town Organics is a social enterprise in the eastern Caribbean on an island called St. Kitts who are marrying together nature and tradition through time-tested teachings handed down through generations to create wellness and beauty solutions.
Teenah.org – producer of cotton tote bags – Jordan
Teenah is a sustainable merchandise company, officially established by Agnes Aistleitner and Raneem Meqbel in Irbid, Jordan. Since mid 2017, Teenah has built a highly motivated and creative team of 15 Syrian refugees and Jordanian women whose living situation remarkably improved through both a sustainable and impactful business model.
Host: Lesley Batchelor, Director General of the Institute of Export & International Trade
Arne Mielken, Young President of the Institute of Export & International Trade
Yi Xiaozhun, Deputy Director-General, The World Trade Organisation
Nicholas Niggli, Director General, Economic Development, Research and Innovation, Republic and State of Geneva
Chris Southworth, Secretary General, The International Chamber of Commerce UK
Shaun Lake, Senior Adviser: E-Learning – International Trade Centre