The GATE breakfast, held on October 7, 2016, was a celebration of a special occasion—its 30th anniversary! Everyone was invited to a gathering aboard the Grand Cru cruise boat, in a captivating setting on Lake Memphrémagog. Manon Laporte, the driving force behind the very first Groupe d’action pour l’avancement technologique de l’Estrie (GATE) breakfasts, was on hand to highlight 30 years of success!
Patrick Lacroix (Maison régionale de l’industrie), Pierre Roy (president, Portable Winch), Amine Menadi (expert in emerging markets), Josée Fortin (executive director, Sherbrooke Innopole), Serge Auray (president, Laboratoires M2), Pierre Bélanger (vice-president, Maison régionale de l’industrie)
During the breakfast, participants had an opportunity to learn more about exportation and how to carve a niche for their company in Asia, Africa, or the Middle East.
According to invited speaker Amine Menadi—marketing and business development specialist, Smart Sourcing consultant, and expert on emerging markets—companies in the region shouldn’t hesitate to export their products and services to these parts of the world. He presented a convincing argument that Québec is, in fact, well-placed to expand its exports!
Among the points explaining why Québec companies have what’s needed to export to these areas:
1 – They have an excellent mastery of technology and a lot of development potential.
2 – They have access to numerous government support programs.
3 – Export financing is within reach. In Canada, 92% of companies planning to export receive funding! The average in other countries is 72%.
4 – Québec SMEs are accustomed to interacting with other cultures, given Canada’s cultural diversity and immigration.
5 – Canada has a respectable image internationally—a peace-loving country, associated with quality production and engineering.
6 – These markets are easier to penetrate, if one opts to explore this avenue. Currently, 10 businesses account for 25% of Canadian exports, among them, SNC Lavalin and Bombardier. Among SMEs, 80% are exporters, and of these exporters, 72% target the United States, but only 11% target emerging markets.
7 – The United States is not always a guaranteed market! History has shown this to be very true. A number of events can affect imports in the U.S.: economic crises, attacks—just think of September 11—, protectionist measures, etc., not to mention elections and our respective currency fluctuations. It’s far better not to put all of one’s eggs in one basket by exporting to one sole market.
There is no reason for local businesses to limit themselves to the North American market, given the various aspects that Mr. Menadi noted to justify exploring this avenue:
- Less dependency on specific markets
- Reaching markets with strong potential
- Global competitiveness
- Business sustainability
Steps to take
The two entrepreneurs who gave their personal accounts at the GATE breakfast acknowledged that exporting to countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East is not easy—far from it—, but that the results are worth it.
Serge Auray, from Laboratoires M2, and Pierre Roy, from Portable Winch, each do business in these parts of the world. They recognize the important role of attending trade shows and trade fairs as one way to succeed in building relationships in these countries. Often at these events, initial contact can be made, which develops over time and leads to long-lasting business relationships. Both individuals have experience with this approach, and recommend it to any company wanting to go into exporting!