Grants available for West Midlands SMEs to help them export

Allen Matty

West Midlands businesses looking to grow their export programmes could benefit from a project that is offering financial support to get them trading overseas.

The West Midlands ERDF SME International Growth Project (SME IGP), funded via the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), has already approved more than 150 grants – worth more than £340,000 – to more than 80 companies in the region, enabling them to access specialist support.

However, the call has gone out to eligible companies in the West Midlands region, which covers Staffordshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire and the West Midlands, that further funding is available.

Allen Matty, managing director of West Midlands Chamber of Commerce (WMCC), said businesses that need a helping hand with exporting can apply for match-funded grants of between £1,000 and £3,000.

“This scheme aims to stimulate export growth within the region by addressing business needs and providing financial support,” he said. “Internationalising a business is a significant step and by accessing specialist support, companies can minimise the risks and gain the knowledge and confidence they need to move into new overseas markets.”

One of the companies that has benefitted from the ERDF grant is Redditch-based Scribble Down, which produces fun and educational transfer packs for children.

 Sales director Peter Hendrickx, who runs the business with his wife Sarah, said the £3,000 grant it received gave the company the boost it required to promote the brand after disappointing sales last year. It meant they were able to attend Spielwarenmesse, the world’s biggest toy fair in Nuremberg, Germany, in February.

“It made a massive difference for us,” he said. “We’d wanted to go for years but the outlay was just too much for a same family business as ours, last year it was as though someone had simply turned the tap off to our overseas sales, therefore we knew we had to go. This funding meant we had half of the exhibition, flight and accomodation costs paid for.

“While we were there, we met people we used to do business with and new customers and came away with more than £25,000 of solid orders, as well as many great leads that we are now actively following up. There’s no doubt that ERDF funding has given our company the much needed life line and in turn has invigorated us to grow the business in 2018.”

 SME IGP aims to support 550 businesses in the West Midlands with business advice, support, grants, and with job creation.  The project is delivered by West Midlands International Trade (WMIT) and funded as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014 – 2020.

The available support includes grants and access to sector expert events, such as Meet the Buyer, and opportunities such as invitations to market visits to investigate potential business openings, trade shows where they can arrange to meet identified business contacts, and take part in joint Local Enterprise Partnership and Growth Hub events, including workshops, export tasters or local marketing campaigns to encourage sustainable exporters to grow.

Any business that is interested in applying for an ERDF SME IGP grant should register their interest and complete an enrolment form at http://bit.ly/ERDFSMEIGP. The experienced team will then assess the company’s suitability for the fund.

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