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The art of exporting

SMEs abroad


The second edition of the Forum for Small and Middle Companies (SME) abroad was held on the 14th of June in Paris.

A far-seeing forum

The event was created two years ago and already stands as the not-to-be missed event of international entrepreneurship in France. The Forum des PME à l’international (Forum of SMEs abroad) held the second edition of the forum on Tuesday 14th of June in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with a full house.

Matthias Fekl, secretary of State in charge of International Trade, Promotion of Tourism and the French abroad, presided the forum born in 2015 to help French small and middle companies manage their international implementation.

Entrepreneurs looking for new worlds

The symposium focused on two major themes: the e-export and the various forms of collaboration, from collaborative exports to international portage of SMEs and portage of international volunteers in companies.

Several major organisations were introduced to the audience:

  • France International, which Web portal allows companies to easily access information and services necessary to their internationalisation;
  • The Conseil national du numérique (CNNum, for National Council for digitalisation), which advisory board studies the impact of digital in the economy and reguarly publishes reports on this matter;
  • The Opérateurs spécialisés du commerce international (OSCI, for Operators Specialised in International Trade), a professional French federation of entrepreneurs abroad.

Business directors among the audience also had the opportunity to share their experience abroad. The audience thus discovered the story of Emmanuel Brugger, general director of the Cristel group, a manufacturer of kitchen utensils. The visionary company leader started working in e-commerce as early as 1999. At the time, the trend was only beginning. Today, his company is well established abroad, and particularly in Japan. The company registers an export performance reaching +450% each year.

Shirley Billot, founder of Kadalys, also shared an insightful experience. Since 2012, her innovative company based in Martinique develops make-up products with the ever-present local product: the banana tree. With a record sales revenue of 700,000€ in 2016, half of which due to exports, her company is part of the most promising of the French industrial landscape.

Campus France, first before recruiters

Campus France Agency took the opportunity created by the event to promote its alumni network. Thanks to their multicultural profile, alumni are a great asset for any company seeking to develop worldwide.

Jean-Pierre Mariaccia, president of Elecio Consulting and founder of Convergence International, a platform of professional networking specialised in the Europe-Mediterranean area, is enthusiastic: "Through our platform, we help companies find a business partner, a provider, a client, but also to recruit. The France Alumni network completes our network. We will assess the possibility of a partnership to find additional opportunities. "

Katherine Graffin, the director of Mondassur, offers a comparator of insurances for expats. Though alumni are potential clients, they are also perfect recruits for such a company: "We you work in the foreign insurance industry, it is essential to have multicultural profiles in your team", she explained.

The government trusts its business directors

The Forum of SMEs abroad also allowed to assess the effects of the action plan launched in 2015 to strengthen the internationalisation of the French economic environment.

During his introduction speech, Matthias Fekl mentioned the launch of the portal that facilitates the processes of expatriation for French companies. He talked about the creation of a one-stop custom desk to simplify custom processes, and about the simplification of the export course led by the consular network and Business France. The objective: support 3,000 French SMEs in their international development by 2017.

The secretary of State also confirmed the appointment of 155 advisors on foreign trade of France to support SMEs worldwide, the deployment 10,000 international volunteers in companies and the renovation of financial tools to support exports. The results are already significant: between 2014 and 1015, 4,000 SMEs took the plunge into internationalisation.

Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs, who closed the event, took the opportunity to set the next meeting: on the 20th of August, the new edition of the "1 ambassador, 1 entrepreneur" meeting will be held in Paris. The meeting will allow company directors to exchange with 169 ambassadors and benefit for their field experience.

[Photo credits]

Photos © Samuel Cortès/Animal pensant