The capacity building webinar "EU SME: How to go international" of AEWEN and euWater4i-SD gathered around 40 participants

The capacity building webinar “EU SME: How to go international” took place on Wednesday 1rst of March 2023 with about 40 participants. Commonly organized by AEWEN and euWater4i-SD, the online training aimed at giving keys to European SMEs to successfully internationalise. Both projects were shortly presented by their project coordinator: Mélissa Chibko for AEWEN and Igor Aranguren for euWater4i-SD. The projects are funded under the EU programme COSME Clusters Go International and support the internationalisation of SMEs with several tools such as capacity building webinars, B2B meetings and trade missions. The target countries of AEWEN are Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal, and the target countries of euWater4i-SD are Kenya, Uganda, Peru and Bolivia.

Three experts were invited to take the floor and present what they think is essential to consider for an SME internationalisation strategy. Mattin Etxeberria, internationalisation consultant from ieTeam, explained what a strategic plan for internationalisation is, what its purpose is and how it is done. According to the motto “Old ways won’t open new doors”, Mattin compared companies to mushrooms: A mushroom might grow in a forest in France, but not in Tunisia or Peru. It will need specific conditions or will have to adapt to a different environment. SMEs must identify the purpose of their internationalisation: Why do they want to go international in the first place? Then the strategic plan for internationalisation can be defined and customised for every company. Predefined steps can be followed such as the market and country preselection, the company profile analysis, the definition of the roadmap and the governance of the plan. ieTeam helps companies to go through these different steps.

Tatiana Miron is an advisor and CEO of the company Prime target in Marseille. She presented three key tools to help choosing a market adapted to the needs of companies. She showed that the reasons for failure in internationalisation are often the lack of an export strategy, ineffective country targeting or / and wasted time and resources. Spending time and resources on selecting international markets is key, especially considering that it takes one to two years to develop a market and that an SME can develop only one to two countries per year. SMEs need to ask themselves: Which market is going to bring more potential, less risk and a lot of opportunities? Tatiana Miron presented three online platforms that can help SMEs identify the countries with the best export potential for them. Among them is the platform developed by Prime target itself, “Market Ranking”, which, after completion of a short questionnaire, sends a Market Ranking report with ranking, market data as well as country economy, risk and other data. The platform is free to test.

Finally, Saad Hamoumi, president of the Harvard Consulting group in Casablanca, Morocco, and Board member of the Globallians network, presented the dos and don’ts of going international. Globallians is an association of International Business Experts represented in more than 60 countries. It offers a range of services in different areas such as sales development, production and technology transfer. Saad Hamoumi showed the importance of defining the objectives of an internationalisation project. Getting to know the market is a first step, which shall lead to carrying out of an implementation study, choosing an implementation strategy and finally defining medium and long-term development objectives. SMEs should not minimise the complexities of global expansion and neglect to investigate country risks. Several risks need to be considered, for instance the risk of culture shock or the risk related to the choice of partners, and measures need to be planned to mitigate them. Saad Hamoumi concluded his presentation with an overview of Moroccan promising sectors and a focus on the renewable energy sector.

The webinar was overall a success and provided insightful material for European SMEs wanting to go international. AEWEN and euWater4i-SD warmly thank the speakers and the participants and invite them to stay tuned: More webinars and trade missions are to come, with a greater focus on target countries.


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