birmingham export action plan final

Exporting is easy – when you have a plan.

Export competition encourages UK SMEs to plan ahead, whatever happens with Brexit.

This autumn Brexit will again dominate the minds of businesses and traders, but the UK’s SMEs should continue to plan ahead and look to export as a way of mitigating risk and increasing global sales. The government’s ‘Export Strategy’ aims to grow exports as a percentage of GDP from 30% to 35% and encouraging SMEs to look at global markets – especially emerging markets – will play a vital part of this.

The Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) is therefore delighted to launch the 12th ‘Open to Export Competition’ to encourage businesses to take ownership of their international strategies.  Sponsored by Bibby Financial Services (BFS), the competition asks SMEs to create a coherent ‘Export Action Plan’ using an online planning tool on

SMEs can then enter their completed plan to the competition for the opportunity to win international trade support from BFS and the IOE&IT, with one winning company being awarded a further £3000 cash towards implementing their Export Action Plan.

The competitions are a key element of the IOE&IT and BFS’s commitment to boosting UK SME exports.

November 5th Deadline

Companies have been given until November 5th to enter their ‘Export Action Plans’ into the competition.

10 shortlisted finalists will then be invited to pitch their businesses at a showcase final, which will be taking place as part of the IOE&IT’s Birmingham World Trade Summit on November 28th. At the summit, the shortlisted finalists will network with and hear from global trade experts about the practicalities of entering markets before pitching to a panel of expert judges about how they would use the £3000 cash prize towards implementing their international growth strategy.

Announcing the launch of the competition, Lesley Batchelor OBE, Director General of the IOE&IT, said:

“This could well be our most important competition yet. With Brexit likely to bring further uncertainty to the business community over the autumn and a ‘No Deal’ cliff-edge still looming, it’s vital that we say to the UK’s SMEs that exporting doesn’t just spread risk, it increases your profits and sales. We also need to tell them that it’s not hard to do – as long as you have a plan and have researched the markets you’re selling to, it’s perfectly doable, whatever the circumstances.”

Jim Davis, Managing Director International, Bibby Financial Services, added:

“We support more than 10,000 businesses worldwide and we know from our own experience that trading overseas presents SMEs with tangible opportunities to grow. The IOE&IT is a fantastic support service for SMEs and we’re looking forward to reviewing the competition entries.”

The Institute of Export & International Trade

The Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) has for over 80 years been the professional membership body representing and supporting the interests of everyone involved in importing, exporting and international trade in the UK. Through qualifications and training the IOE&IT has driven the export skills agenda in the UK and is the country’s leading authority for best practice and competence in trade. The IOE&IT was awarded with the title of ‘Small Business Champion’ by the WTO and ICC in 2018 following an international ‘Open to Export’ competition it ran in Geneva, which attracted entries from 74 countries.

Bibby Financial Services

Bibby Financial Services (BFS) is a leading independent financial services partner to over 10,000 businesses worldwide.  With over 40 operations in 14 countries spanning Asia, Europe and North America, BFS provides specialist and adaptable FX services, trade, asset and working capital finance, helping businesses to grow in domestic and international markets. Formed in 1982, BFS is part of the Bibby Line Group (BLG), a diverse and forward-looking family business delivering personal, responsive and flexible customer solutions for over 200 years.

To find out more about Bibby Financial Services, visit:

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