Export Barbados, a key partner of the National Cultural Foundation’s (NCF) plan to boost exports by local creatives, says it has a tailor-made programme for this special group of entrepreneurs.
This was outlined by Sheena Thorne, the business development officer at Export Barbados, who engaged several practitioners attending the recent NCF Accelerate to Export Buyers’ Visit and Symposium held over two days at Hilton Barbados.
The event, which was executed by the NCF’s Business Development Department, was designed specifically for artisans involved in the production of products in the Home and Accents, Fashion and Accessories, as well as Beauty, Spa and Wellness sectors to access export markets.
It also provided the local artisans the opportunity to interact with buyers from companies such as Harmony Designs Furniture & Interiors based in the US; Off The Shelf Reps, which works with brands such as Wholefoods; Victoria Akkari of Home Décor who works with emerging global women artisans, and Staci Lantz of Imagine Homes.
According to Thorne, Export Barbados was ‘laser focused on export” and in its strategic planning had designed solutions that targeted small and emerging producers, through its Tier 5 Voyager Export Academy Programme.
Producers who trade up to US$150 000 are provided with a suite of development assistance to create the framework for successful exportation.
How is that assistance provided? The Export Barbados official explained the government agency’s work is intentional and designed to transform potential into actual export sales.
“When you come in an officer will speak with you, find out your needs, and direct you to our academy online where we have a number of training solutions. . . . This may be followed by completing the Getting Export Ready programme, which we call a bootcamp because it is intensive,” Thorne outlined.
She added: “We looked at what the product or service you are intending for the market. We show you how to do research into your export market, where you consider matters such as cultural differences and potential logistical issues.”
Export Barbados’ International Food Science Centre was highlighted as a critical development in assisting those involved in food production for export and are required to meet certain international standards in the production process.
Participants in the Accelerate to Export Buyers’ Visit and Symposium were also informed: “We also source raw material and so there is the added benefit of being able to purchase the material at a discounted price; that affects your price levels and makes you more competitive.”
The good news for Barbadians involved in the beauty and spa sector, is the planned establishment of a facility specifically for those involved in the manufacture of products used in this sector.
In the area of product development, Export Barbados Voyager Programme for Tier 5 participants can benefit from assistance with scientific testing on product formulation, advice on compliance and feedback regarding product labelling.
For creatives, Export Barbados has supported these entrepreneurs attend trade shows such as New York Now.
Symposium attendees heard first hand from Helen Joffe, a consultant with New York Now Rising Artisans works in the handmade artisan sector which introduced her to hundreds of socially minded artisan businesses from Haiti to Uzbekistan.
Participants were also reminded of the importance of certifying their export products through Export Barbados. This agency is the authority for certifying exports under all the trade agreements the island has signed.