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Delaware Small Businesses Resume Global Travel Boosting Export Sales

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After two years grounded in the US due to the pandemic, Export Delaware is ready to travel the world again! We’ve got an aggressive travel schedule planned for Delaware small businesses that are ready to expand their exports around the world. So far we’ve traveled to Dubai (March 2022) and are headed to South Africa, Kenya, and Tanzania in May. Then we are on to Israel in Summer. 

The business trip to Dubai was a great initiative to get us back into our globetrotting routine! Four Delaware small businesses from various industries (bioscience, technology, medical devices, and more) participated. Representatives from each company spent five days meeting one-on-one with prospective customers in Dubai and the region. The Export Delaware team prepared a packed schedule with key business meetings. They even arranged and paid for cars and drivers to take participants from meeting to meeting, to ensure everyone could get to each meeting on time. As a result, participating small businesses estimate they will bring in over $325,000 in new export sales, and sales have been achieved already! 

“These state-led business trips have proven to be a successful strategy for entering new markets and increasing export sales,” says Secretary of State Jeff Bullock. “The customized support from the Export Delaware team and the in-country trade representatives make all the difference.” 

The next trip to Africa will take place from May 9-18, 2022. Five Delaware small businesses will travel to one or more countries (South Africa, Kenya, and/or Tanzania) to meet with potential customers. This trip is a long time coming – While the borders were closed in the previous two years due to the pandemic, Export Delaware laid the groundwork in Africa. Two “Virtual Trade Missions” took place. Our Export Delaware Foreign Trade Representative network coordinated virtual business meetings with pre-vetted potential customers, distributors, and resellers for our participating small businesses. The in-person trip scheduled in May will be a follow-up effort to these virtual missions. “We anticipate that participants will come back to the US with signed deals in hand as a result of the groundwork laid over the past two years,” says Export Trade Director, Beth Pomper.  In fact, one of our small businesses, Kango Express, is doing a public relations event launching their new service in South Africa with the partner identified by Export Delaware.  

The last trip on the calendar is scheduled for Israel, July, 2022. Six Delaware small businesses are lined up to participate. Again, this trip follows extensive virtual meetings that have taken place in the first quarter of the year. “Our companies garnered a lot of interest for their products and services in the first round of virtual meetings,” says Beth Pomper. “We anticipate this follow-up trip to Israel will be very fruitful for participating small businesses.” 

STEP(Export) Grants Support the Travel Costs
These trips are all made possible by the SBA STEP Grant Program, which covers the costs of planning the trips, vetting potential clients, and setting up one-on-one meetings. In addition, each of the participating companies are taking advantage of the STEP Grant by using it to cover 50% of their flight and hotel costs while on the trip. When traveling to expensive cities like Dubai, the STEP Grant really helps out! 

It’s not too late for Delaware small businesses to take advantage of the STEP grant for their own international business travel. If you are traveling overseas to visit potential customers, follow up with current customers, or attend a trade show, we encourage you to apply! The STEP Grant is a reimbursement grant that will cover 50% of eligible, pre-approved export-related expenses. 

If you don’t plan to travel, but will be making investments into other export marketing expenses, we encourage you to apply as well. Here are some examples of how you can use STEP Grant funds to expand your exports: 

  • Booth fees for exhibiting at a tradeshow overseas
  • Travel expenses (hotel and airfare) for visiting potential clients or distributors in another country
  • Export Credit Insurance
  • Fees to work with the US Commercial Service on International Partner Search
  • Fees associated with obtaining your CE Mark
  • Expenses for translating your product manual into another language
  • Expenses for optimizing and localizing your website for a foreign market

To apply, simply go to https://export.delaware.gov/step-grant/ and download the STEP Grant application. Fill it out and be sure to outline the details of the trip you will be taking and how much STEP Grant funds you are requesting. Then submit it to the Export Delaware team at export@delaware.gov. You will have until September 29, 2022, to spend the funds, and an application takes only about 15 minutes to complete.

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