Frequently Asked Questions

To help answer any queries you may have about the Export Action Plan tool or the International Business Awards, we have published below some of the most frequently asked questions.

If you have any further questions please feel free to get in touch at

How to enter  

What are the Open to Export International Business Awards?

The International Business Awards represent an opportunity for SMES from all over the world to win US$5000 towards their plans for international growth.

It is being supported by the Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT), and by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) as part of the ‘WTO-ICC Small Business Champions’ initiative.

What is ‘Open to Export’?

Open to Export (OTE) help new and inexperienced businesses prepare to sell overseas by giving them vital access to online information, support and advice – at no cost whatsoever. This includes introductory guides to all the key steps of export, market guides and a comprehensive webinar programme.

What is the WTO-ICC Small Business Champions Initiative?

The ‘ICC-WTO Small Business Champions’ initiative has been launched by the WTO and the ICC to facilitate participation by smaller companies in international trade.

It provides a platform for companies and private sector organizations around the world to propose innovative, practical ideas designed to encourage micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to do business across borders.

How do I enter the competition?

By completing your ‘Export Action Plan’ using Open to Export’s online planning tool.

Once your plan is complete, simply tick the competition box to enter.

Alternatively, you can send your generated PDF report to

What is the Export Action Plan?

The Export Action Plan is an intuitive online planning tool which takes you through 5 key steps to export success. It is simple to use and works by asking you to complete tasks and set actions, helping you to establish what you need to know and do to start selling overseas.

Once you have completed the steps, you will generate an action plan which is a brilliant showpiece to take to your bank, business advisor or international trade advisor.

More questions about the Export Action Plan tool itself can be found below.

Does my entry need to be in English?

Unfortunately Open to Export is an English company and as such we cannot guarantee that we will be able to translate entries from all other languages. However, we will not judge the entries solely on the criteria below, and not by the quality of the English.

What happens once I’ve entered?

All submissions will be judged by an expert panel organised by the IOE&IT. 10 finalists will then be invited to pitch their export plans to another panel of judges at the WTO Public Forum in Geneva.

What are the criteria for the judging?

Submissions will be judged according to:

  • How feasible the plans for international growth are
  • Whether the next steps and actions are achievable and practical
  • How the company would benefit from the prizes on offer, in regards to export

What is the WTO Public Forum?

The Public Forum, taking place on 2-4 October 2018, is the WTO’s largest annual outreach event, providing a platform for participants to discuss the latest developments in world trade and to propose ways of enhancing the multilateral trading system. The event regularly attracts over 1,500 representatives from civil society, academia, business, the media, governments, parliamentarians and inter-governmental organizations.

What does the pitching involve?

The 10 finalists will be asked to present what their businesses do, where they are at the moment with their exports, their planned next steps in export, and how they’d use the prize money towards implementing these next steps. They will present for 10 minutes – with slides – with an additional 5 minutes of questions from the expert judges. 

What happens if I cannot make the final? 

While we believe entrants would benefit greatly from the exposure and publicity available at the Public Forum, as well as the networking opportunities, we appreciate that businesses have budgets and limits on their resource. As such, we would be open to finalists sending in their pitches by video conferencing technology or through a pre-recorded video.

What else could I win?

The winner will win US$5000 and a package of support and training to implement their plans.

The winner – and the other 9 finalists – will all be invited to exhibit their businesses at a stand throughout the WTO Public Forum in Geneva.

You can find out more details about the full prize package here. 

Completing the Action Plan

Who’s it for?

The Export Action Plan is for small businesses investigating exporting for the first time or planning to export to a new country.

What does it cost?

It is FREE to do – all you need to do is register to use it.

How do I register?

When starting your Export Action Plan you will be asked to login or register as an Open to Export user. If you already have an Open to Export account, you can start your Action Plan immediately.

How long will it take?

The Export Action Plan can take as long as you need.

We do encourage you to consider properly the prompts and resources carefully and to think through your answers and actions.

You will gain more from the tool if you really think about the details and ramifications of exporting in each section.

Can I save my action plan? 

Your plan automatically saves as you go along, allowing you to take breaks, go away to research your answers, and return to the plan at a later time or even date.

In the tool, you will also be able to see the latest time at which your plan has been most recently and automatically saved.

One thing to note is that you will be logged out of the tool if you have been inactive within it for an hour. Your latest responses will, however, have been saved.

Who can see my Action Plan?

Your Action Plan is private and can only be accessed by your account. Only if you share your PDF report or submit your completed Action Plan report to our competition will anyone else be able to view it. Your data will be processed and handled according to our data privacy and not shared with any third parties, unless clearly indicated elsewhere.

Can I share it

You can share it by generating a PDF report of your report, which you can then send to your adviser – by email or in paper form.

How do I generate the report?

At the end of the section, when you complete your actions, you will see a button saying ‘Generate your Action Plan’. Click this and a PDF version of your report will be downloaded to your computer – but only once you have completed all the sections.

You can complete the sections in any order but you can only generate a report once you have completed all the sections.

What happens if something goes wrong?

If for any reason you experience any technical difficulties, please email admin@opentoexport.comand we will help resolve any issues you have as quickly as possible. If possible, please send us a phone number with which we can contact you to talk through the issue you are encountering.

What do I do if I struggle to complete a section?

If you are finding it difficult to complete a question because it is hard to understand or you don’t have the ability or resource needed to answer it properly, consider asking your bank or trade adviser for support, or consider calling our helpline. You will already be signed up to this as a registered user on the site.

What do I do next?

We advise you to take your Export Action Plan to your local trade adviser to discuss further how you can implement your plan.

Export Action Plan