Enterprise Canada Network: Connecting Canadian SMEs to European opportunities
This guest blog post is provided by Export Development Canada (EDC), Canada's export credit agency, which provides financing, insurance and bonding solutions to help Canadian companies respond to international business opportunities.
What is the biggest barrier for Canada's small businesses in growing their sales abroad? According to a 2008 Conference Board of Canada Study, and echoed by Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME)'s 2014 Management Issues Survey, the biggest challenge SMEs face is identifying good market opportunities.
It's also what Export Development Canada (EDC) is hearing from its customers. Smaller Canadian companies need information — plain and simple — on opportunities in various countries and in their area of expertise. And they need to know how to access procurement opportunities. Otherwise, it's challenging for many to even know where to start. At the same time, research shows that exporting can help companies improve productivity and help businesses stay in business longer.
Put yourselves in their shoes: A typical Canadian SME, especially the very small one, is likely struggling in the domestic market right now. It's easy to say, ‘start selling into Europe or emerging markets,' but many of them just don't know where to start. It can be pretty intimidating.
To that effect, EDC partnered with CME to build the Enterprise Canada Network (ECN), a web site that allows Canadian companies to register and connect to business, technology and research opportunities posted in the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) and other databases, in order to build global partnerships.
Essentially, ECN is a one-stop shop for SMEs looking to sell their goods and services. ECN can help these companies find business leads and educate them on the ABCs and 123s of going into specific markets. The platform connects Canadian businesses and researchers to qualified global procurement opportunities so that, in theory, a Canadian company can find its next business partner at the click of a mouse. But it's not as simple as a matchmaking dating site; there's a lot of work involved upfront. The country partners (e.g. CME in Canada) have done a lot of background work to ensure the fit is a good one for both parties before an introduction is made.
The overall objective is pretty clear: to help Canadian companies find new market opportunities and grow domestically and abroad. And we're pretty confident ECN will do just that.
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