Cross-border export scheme available to new firms
A programme which has already helped 150 small businesses generate £3m worth of new cross-border sales in the past two years is open to new firms hoping to export.
The Elevate scheme from InterTradeIreland provides sales support for firms in sectors including food and beverage, construction and engineering.
Small businesses can choose from a list of more than 100 experienced industry specialists who can then help them to identify sales leads and negotiate deals.
Anna Taggart, of Newtownabbey firm Yummy Bakes, credits the Elevate programme with helping to open up the Irish market for her pastry and biscuit ranges.
"I recognised that I needed someone who came from the food industry and knew the market inside out," she said.
"With more than 100 experts to choose from, I was able to select the perfect match for me. He helped me to research the market and organised two interviews for me with potential major distributors and I am waiting to hear the outcome of these.
"I had grown the local element of my business substantially and wanted to take Yummy Bakes across the border but was unsure about how and where to start.
"I may have got to the point of considering breaking into Ireland but it would have been many years down the line. Participation in Elevate sped this up greatly."
Margaret Hearty from InterTradeIreland added: "A few years ago we realised there was a funding gap for small micro-enterprises.
"As they make up 96% of businesses on the island, it is essential that they receive the support they require to expand and flourish.
"The cross-border market is an often an underutilised but logical first step to wider export markets, giving experience of varied legislation and working with a different currency but has the comfort of being more accessible.
"Once mastered, this makes looking at European markets a more realistic prospect."