Zambia and other Commonwealth member states are set to benefit from the Commonwealth-First programme, a new initiative that has been created by the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC) to support internationalisation of the Commonwealth’s small and medium sized businesses.
During the launch of the Commonwealth-First programme held at Marlborough House, CWEIC Chief Executive Officer Mr. Oliver Everett introduced the concept of the programme and stated that the Commonwealth factor of shared language, legal system and business practices helped to make trade on average 19 per cent cheaper between Commonwealth member countries.
He informed the house that by the year 2020, Commonwealth trade is expected to double to US$1 trillion.
“With this launch today, over the next 3 years, 100 leading UK SMEs will be selected to become Commonwealth Export Champions. Through intensive training, mentoring, trade missions and business development support, these Export Champions will be supported in their quest to win new business in the fast growing Commonwealth markets. Their success will then be showcased as encouragement to the wider business community to make greater use of the Commonwealth network,” he said.
Commonwealth-First programme is a new initiative to support internationalisation of the Commonwealth’s small and medium sized businesses beginning with the pilot programme here in the UK. The initiative is supported by the Royal Mail.
Only 50 businesses from Africa will be chosen to be in the first phase of the project and Zambian SME’s are encouraged to take keen interest in the project and be part of transforming their businesses and Zambia at large.
The launch was attended by Zambia High Commission Counsellor Economic and First Secretary-Trade, some High Commissioners, other Diplomats and various organisations under the Commonwealth umbrella.
The Commonwealth-First website provides support for all businesses looking to trade and invest in Commonwealth countries, as well as an e-commerce platform developed by I-genius and funded by Royal Mail. The website is: www.commonwealthfirst.org
A list will be compiled and selection will be undertaken by the Commonwealth-First leadership and their team of mentors which includes among others, Mr Joseph Zammit Tabona, the Special Envoy to the Prime Minister of Malta for Investment promotion. Upon selection, the SME’s from all over Commonwealth will then be part of the mentorship programmes and trade missions after the initial 3-year focus on UK SME’s.
The Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC) was established in July 2014 as a not for profit membership organisation. The main objective is to facilitate trade and investment throughout the 53 countries of the Commonwealth and support private sector companies and Governments in developing economic activity. CWEIC is mandated to promote intra-Commonwealth trade and investment.