Sat 6th Jul 2013
Foster launches second phase of private sector export initiative
Above: Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster is pictured with Ann McGregor, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Kevin Kingston, Deputy Chief Executive and Managing Director, Business & Corporate Banking at Danske Bank.
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster today launched the second phase of business support programme ‘Danske Bank Export First’ – a Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce initiative which aims to help aspiring and new exporters.
Following a highly successful pilot phase in June 2011 – August 2012, Danske Bank Export First, will continue to provide support to potential exporters; increase awareness amongst SMEs of existing export schemes; and provide assistance to firms seeking new market opportunities by linking them to individuals who have experience in addressing many of the issues and queries encountered by first time exporters.
The second phase of the programme will continue to feature inspirational thought leadership events with some of Northern Ireland’s top exporters, as well as a focus on new markets and the development of the skills set required to operate in them.
Minister Arlene Foster said:
“I welcome the continuation of the Export First initiative after a very successful pilot phase. Exporting can often seem like a daunting experience, particularly for smaller businesses. Initiatives like this are particularly important, because they put first time and potential exporters in direct contact with someone who has ‘been there, done that’ and can therefore give first hand, practical advice.
“The current economic situation means it is more important than ever for businesses to look to new markets if they are to thrive and improve their competitiveness. Historically, exports focused on near markets such as the Republic of Ireland or Great Britain. While these are important, many opportunities exist right across the world and it is important that SMEs do not shy away from taking advantage of them.
“Invest Northern Ireland works hard to increase our export base and has a full range of measures to help companies increase their sales abroad. Local companies are already making great strides in emerging markets like China and India, and I am sure others will follow their example.”
Ann McGregor, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, said:
“Danske Bank Export First has provided support to 230 local businesses in its first year, rolling out ten events in locations across Northern Ireland.
“The next phase of the project has been adapted to include aspects of the pilot as well as a secondary level of support designed to assist companies that are committed to growing their exports and take them to the next level.
“Danske Bank Export First has already raised the profile of exporting substantially among smaller companies in particular and made a significant contribution to the work of the Northern Ireland Executive and Invest Northern Ireland in the creation of a culture of exporting within the local business community.
“We are very grateful to Danske Bank for making phase two of this programme possible through the provision of resources and expertise.”
Kevin Kingston, Deputy Chief Executive and Managing Director – Business & Corporate Banking at Danske Bank commented:
“As part of a large, successful European banking group, we appreciate the wealth of excellent opportunities that lie outside of Northern Ireland for our indigenous companies and are committed to helping them to seize those opportunities through export.
“At Danske Bank our strong support for exporters is two-fold, combining the expertise of highly experienced export specialists with the innovative technology-led banking solutions for which the Danske Banking group is so widely renowned.
“Export has been identified as being the key vehicle for sustainable economic growth here and, if export is the vehicle, we see the Danske Bank Export First initiative as being the driver. We look forward to working alongside the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce over the next year to equip aspiring and experienced local exporters with the knowledge and confidence to break into new markets for the first time or take their export activity to the next level.”
During its First phase, Danske Bank Export First has been supported by 20 of Northern Ireland’s most successful exporters including Almac, Boomer Industries, Concentrix, Dale Farm, Moy Park, Suki Tea, Terex, Whale Pumps and Wright Bus.