Local businesses set their sights on new markets
  • Friday 23 June 2017

A pharmaceutical company extracting a substance from shellfish to treat obesity, high cholesterol and Crohn’s disease, to a gourmet pet treats and an award-winning chocolate company – these are just some of the Sunshine Coast products and services that could soon hit international shores.

Company owners or representatives of 10 local businesses have just completed Sunshine Coast Council’s Export Development and Global Capability Program, gathering the knowledge they need to take the next step into exporting.

The 10-week course provided the skills, advice and contacts to help these businesses develop export strategies and understand Free Trade Agreements, logistics and pricing.

KOKOPOD founder and head chocolatier Brigid Woolnough said she had learnt a lot from the program, both personally and professionally, which will benefit her local business which makes award-winning chocolates and hand-crafted confectionery.

“The export program was offered to us by Sunshine Coast Council and I felt like it was a good opportunity to think in terms of the future, as export is something on our radar,” Ms Woolnough said.

“It’s a good opportunity to learn about something you know nothing about and we felt like it was good timing to be able to do that and collaborate with other businesses on the Sunshine Coast.

“Export is something that is more complicated than you think so being able to break it down to a step-by-step process through the export program was a good way to work out if it was viable for your business.

“Whether you are exporting already or planning to export, there was always something to learn.

“This course has made me confident that our product could go into export and the steps that I would need to take in order to prepare our highly perishable product.  

“I probably would have taken a lot longer to determine those same factors if I hadn’t done it in a 10-week stint.”

Typefi marketing associate Shanna Bignell also found the program beneficial to build her knowledge of exporting to assist her role in a company that is already exporting.

“Typefi won the national export award for small business in 2016 and although I’ve been with them for two years (they’ve been exporting its automated publishing software since 2005), I’ve never done any exporting before  so it’s all new to me and I wanted to get a handle on export processes so I could more effectively talk about Typefi and it’s export experiences.

“Since Typefi has been exporting for so long, we did have most things covered off, but there is still a lot there to consider and there’s always new things happening in the global marketplace.

“It has been really beneficial to learn just how complex it is, but also to know there are plenty of resources out there to help you and guide you a long the way.”

Collins Rex, head of skills and product development at the Export Council of Australia, facilitated this week’s graduation event in which participants pitched their products and services to an expert judging panel and was impressed by the quality of ideas.

“We need to continue to support and educate companies and make available the information exporters need to get into global markets,” Ms Rex said.

“There were some great ideas and products on show at the graduation event.

”These companies need to be nurtured through ongoing support if they are to grow into well-developed exporters in the future.

“We need to show more businesses how to export to ensure that the Sunshine Coast and Australia maintains and grows the level of economic development we want to have.”

Economic Portfolio Councillor Stephen Robinson said the Export Development and Global Capability Program was a great way to grow the knowledge of local businesses and connect them with other experienced people.

“There are a growing number of successful exporters already in our region such as CoYo, Gourmet Garden and Typefi just to name a few,” Cr Robinson said.

“Council’s export capability program provides other local businesses with a great opportunity to learn more about taking the next step into exporting through a range of face-to-face networking events and connections with other export experienced business people.

“Export is a key factor in economic development. In fact our Regonal Economic Development Strategy aims for 20% of our locally produced goods and services to be available for export outside the region by 2033.

“I would encourage anyone who’s thinking about exporting or even an experienced exporter to get in touch with council and really understand what programs and support we can offer.”

The key benefits for businesses who export include:

  • Access to new sources of revenue
  • Reduced risk by broadening the customer base
  • Increased ability to recruit quality staff and skills
  • Increased opportunities for innovation

Council offers a comprehensive program of support for potential and existing exporters including regular workshops, networking events and the Sunshine Coast Export LinkedIn Group. 

To find out more, visit Council’s Business E-News or join the Sunshine Coast Export Linkedin Group here: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/Sunshine-Coast-Export-Network-6753175