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Eager to meet new clients? Find them around the world (Without Leaving Home)

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Many of Delaware’s exporters and international business development professionals have been working diligently from their home offices in the past year and a half. Pre-pandemic, these globe trotters typically take 3-4 international trips per year to meet new prospects, sign partnership agreements, and grow their exports.

Beth Pomper

Since it was unsafe to travel due to COVID-19, they learned to be flexible and find ways to make business happen by working with Export Delaware.

Over the past 18 months, we’ve worked to deliver over 100 virtual meetings for Delaware small businesses with potential foreign customers and distributors. Many have signed agreements with their new partners and are achieving export sales! In addition to virtual meetings, we’ve helped many other Delaware Small Businesses increase their brand awareness overseas and move the needle forward internationally through the STEP grant program.

The SBA STEP Grant program offers 50% matching grants to Delaware small businesses to help cover international business development-related expenses.

Here are a few examples of how you can use a STEP grant award:

  • Pre-pay for an overseas trade show scheduled for next year
  • Translate your website and marketing material
  • Optimize your website for a global market
  • Pay for compliance testing
  • Travel to visit foreign customers/distributors
  • And so much more (check the complete list of eligible activities on our website, delaware.gov)

Michael Brockert, the Managing Partner of Kango Express in Newark, Delaware, was eager to connect with new distributors in Africa. Our team went to work with our local partners in Africa to identify candidates that would be a good fit for Kango.

“They have done such a good job of lining up potential partners — They all seem qualified,” said Brockert.

One by one, Brockhert met with each of the prospects on Zoom. Kango decided to draft agreements with exclusive partners in Ghana, South Africa, and Tanzania based on these virtual discussions. Brockhert anticipates making export sales in all three countries this year. “If all goes as well as planned, we want to expand into twenty more African counties,” says Brockert.

Another small business in Newark, Supercritical Fluid Technologies, was looking for strategies to increase brand awareness in Latin America. “The world is changing how it does business. With the pandemic, we needed to try some other things,” says Ken Krewson, VP of Sales & Marketing. They partnered with Export Delaware and an international web developer to launch a new localized website for their Latin American audience. The new website is in the Spanish language and is locally hosted, so it is easier to find on search engines by users in Latin America.

Krewson is happy the company decided to invest in this project. “We’ve already seen an uptick in website traffic in these nations. Undoubtedly this will lead to new clients and export business in the future.” Supercritical Fluid Technologies plans to launch more international websites in Q4 of 2021.

This type of investment is an eligible expense in the STEP program. 50% of the project (up to $6,000) was funded by the SBA STEP grant administered by Export Delaware. These grants help offset the costs so Delaware small businesses can focus on growing!

Export Delaware has helped 81 Delaware small businesses grow their business around the world. Since 2014, the Delaware Department of State, Export Delaware, and the SBA have invested nearly $1 million in supporting Delaware’s exporters. As a result, participating companies have achieved $148 million in new export sales.

To learn more about the program or to apply for a STEP Grant, visit our website at export.delaware.gov.

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