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Looking to cross more borders? Here are essential tips to grow your export business


‘Knowledge is power’ as the old saying goes, and this could not be truer for businesses that export into international markets.

Many clients I work with are unaware of the government grants that are available for exporting businesses, or they don’t realise their company is an exporting business in the first place and is entitled to government funding.

For example, if you work in higher education and engage in marketing activities to attract international students to study in Australia, you are likely eligible for the Export Market Development Grant (EMDG).

This grant offers a 50% cash rebate on eligible marketing activities net of the first $5k of expenditure, the average grant value awarded to clients is upwards of $50k– not something any business wants to miss out on!

After years of helping exporting businesses to enter into new markets and receive millions of dollars in government funding, below are the top tips I’ve learnt over the years.

There are many opportunities for exporting businesses, you just need to know what government funding is available in order to accelerate your business growth.

Below is a snapshot of some of the biggest and most recent government grants for exporters.

Export Market Development Grant (EMDG)

The EMDG is designed to help recoup the costs faced by Australian businesses marketing themselves to international markets. The grant is calculated at 50% of total eligible expenses, net of the first $5,000.

For example, a tourism operator in Queensland may pay their staff to attend a tourism expo in the United Sates in order to promote Queensland tourism. If this activity cost $35,000 the EMDG would be calculated as $15,000 i.e. 50% of eligible expenses minus $5,000.

You can also claim expenses that don’t require you to travel outside of Australia, such as Google AdWords and Facebook advertising or advertising on China’s WeChat.

SA Export Accelerator Program

This grant was launched in August 2018 and offers up to $30,000 in matched funding for businesses that are looking to grow into international markets and create jobs. The grant is divided into three components, with matched funding up to $5000 for Emerging Exporters, matched funding up to $30,000 to help fund expansions and matched funding up to $15,000 to fund business expansion for each international market.

The Victoria-Israel Science Innovation and Technology Scheme (VISITS)

This initiative is to help Victorian and Israeli organisations work collaboratively on projects of mutual interest. Funding is prioritised for businesses working in the ‘priority growth sectors’, such as Food and Fibre, New Energy, Medical Devices and Pharmaceuticals and International Education.

Potential grant funding includes up to $2,000 reimbursement for travel and accommodation expenses for attending trade missions and conferences. There is also a collaboration funding stream of up to $250k for companies working together.

Understand your legislative requirements

Did you know if you are exporting goods many countries require a Certificate of Origin? This is a legal document that identifies goods and contains express certification by a government authority or other body that the goods originate in a specific country. There are numerous legislative requirements and they can be different depending on what you are exporting.

The easiest way to find out your legislative requirements for your specific business, is to speak with your local Chamber of Commerce. Each Chamber of Commerce has an export assistance department that you can speak with and get legislative advice.

Click on the links below for the relevant Chamber of Commerce in your state.

VIC (https://www.victorianchamber.com.au/)
NSW (https://www.nswbusinesschamber.com.au/)
QLD (https://www.cciq.com.au/)
WA (https://www.cciwa.com/)
SA (https://www.business-sa.com/)
TAS (http://www.tcci.com.au/home)
NT (https://www.chambernt.com.au/)
ACT (https://www.canberrabusiness.com/)
National (https://www.australianchamber.com.au/)

Another useful resource is the official Austrade website.

Austrade is a government department that provides export assistance including the payment and auditing of the largest export marketing grant – the Export Market Development Grant.

The official Austrade website is a good initial place to research what services are available to your business to assist you in exporting.

When exporting overseas, use your contacts

If you are exporting into international markets, you are likely eligible to participate in Austrade trade missions.

A trade mission provides your business with opportunities to expand internationally by being a part of international business briefings, networking functions, trade exhibitors, business culture workshops and business matching facilitation.

Trade missions are usually organised by sector i.e. food and beverage, mining, manufacturing etc.

A calendar of trade missions across Australia can be found here. It is also worth talking to the local government representative in your state as they too run regular trade missions globally and often with a minister in attendance.

Understand your local market

When you’re exporting into international markets, ensure you research the country you are intending on exporting into. Many businesses have failed to export internationally, despite being successful locally. Bunnings’ entry into the UK is a good example.

Entering a new market often requires a unique business plan and marketing strategy; this is due to different competitor landscapes, different cultural needs internationally, population, business operating costs etc. It may be worthwhile hiring a marketing expert in your target international market, who understands the market from an insider’s perspective.

Supercharge your growth

Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC) is a government organisation that provides finance for Australian exporters.

EFIC provides a range of expert loans, guarantees, bonds and insurance products to help Australian businesses expand internationally, win export supply chain contracts, secure export-related contracts in new markets and more.

Work with the experts

When you’re in business it’s important to remember you don’t have to do it all on your own. Our team at Avant Group specialises in grants for exporting businesses and have secured millions of dollars in funding for businesses like yours.

A government grant consultant is able to determine if you are eligible for funding, what expenses can be claimed and can also guide you through all of the necessary paperwork and any audits that may come up.

Kate Whitehead is the founder and Managing Director of Avant Group.  Her role sees her undertake major competitive grant applications and key project management for research and development activities, and other major project management activities. Kate oversees the company’s grants consulting team, who is charged with application identification, submission, management and auditing compliance. Outside of her work Kate is a Director and Board Member of the Fight Cancer Foundation, a major Australian not for profit research organisation. Kate holds a Masters in Marketing and a Post Graduate Diploma of Business Management from Melbourne Business School. Kate also holds qualifications in Engineering (Mech) and Business Management.

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