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 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, plus other key markets will be confirmed.