Intelligent Business Advantage Ltd, CEO Bernard Campbell, expressed satisfaction that the T&T Coalition of Services Industries’ (TTCSI) Doing Business With the World Series is a success as it opened doors for local companies to expand business ties with international partners.
His company provides business support to companies wishing to break into international markets. The company also does IT support.
From 2014 to 2016, he served as chairman of the Trade and Business Development Committee of the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Westmoorings.
Campbell described the TTCSI’s international business series as a “board meeting specifically set up” for the business person seeking international markets.
“This was extremely beneficial. The more information that we have available, we can better be able to assist clients. Right now, we are looking for products for a specific company. They are looking to replace one of their product lines that comes from the Far East. They import food products into T&T. They are a distributor. That long distribution chain gets disrupted very easily. They are looking for a closer market, so instead of going to get the products far away, they get them close by. T&T has over 1,000,000 people, but there are closer markets in this region and they are much bigger than T&T; for example the countries which TTCSI highlighted.”
He spoke of advantages that his client can gain by accessing regional countries from which to source its food products.
“You get scale so that the manufacturer that do things over there, they have advantages of scale and potentially better prices and product lines. One of the benefits of this series is that, let’s look at the Dominican Republic, they brought the Ambassador, their business promotion agency and they brought together the local representative for business promotion. They brought all these people in one place who shared their insights into how to do business with them. You had people from shipping lines. You can’t sign a business agreement and then you can’t ship the product. There is need to find out the estimated cost and duration to get products into T&T.”
He said in 2024, he and his food distributor client will be visiting several countries in the region to source canned food products.
“They are looking at non-perishable canned goods. Coincidently, two of the meetings that we had were countries we were on the way to visit. One of them was Cuba and the other one was another Latin American country which I don’t want to give the name of as yet. In terms of quality and their standards, in terms of packaging and labelling and available volumes, things look quite promising once the numbers make sense.”
Campbell, who also speaks Spanish, noted that the TTCSI’s international business series also assisted local companies in familiarising themselves with Spanish-speaking Latin American countries as doing business with a country that speaks a foreign language can make the process more difficult.
“More people from these countries may have people at their companies who speak English. So, if you can’t speak Spanish at all, it may limit the size and type of businesses you can interact well. If you attended one of the TTCSI’s business session before you visit the country you want to do business in, it puts your business five steps ahead of the game.”
Nuturing new businesses
The TTCSI’s CEO Vashti Guyadeen told Sunday Business that local business people are already working on leads developed out of the series.
She referred to financial analyst Stephanie Pemberton who visited the Bahamas for a trade mission and on social media, Pemberton said her trip was aimed at onboarding Bahamian SMEs & buyers, and raising and deploying private equity investments in the region.
Guyadeen noted that Pemberton’s trip to the Bahamas followed the Bahamas’ Prime Minister Phillip E. Davis’ visit to T&T in August.
Guyadeen also said from May through November 2023, the TTCSI’s comprehensive coverage spanned twelve countries and the European Union, encompassing a diverse range of locales such as Cuba, Türkiye, the Dominican Republic, Barbados, Belize, Curacao, Colombia, the Bahamas featuring its Prime Minister, Canada, Chile, Peru, and Mexico.
She spoke about the involvement of at least 100 business people per session during the international business series not only from T&T but in the Caribbean and even throughout Latin America.
She also said in 2024, they will continue the series with more countries.
“In 2024, our agenda includes expanding our reach to 32 countries, including T&T. These countries have been strategically chosen based on their significance as key markets for our members and businesses that have engaged in the Gateway to Trade Programme 1.0, as well as those listed on our National Services Exporters Portal.”
She said the TTCSI’s aim is ambitious and is to nurture a group of 100 globally competitive service providers and firms by 2027.
“The ‘Doing Business with the World’ series is a pivotal component of this vision. Leveraging cutting-edge technology, we are building a sustainable community through our national services exporters’ portal. By January 2024, this portal is set to transform into an international platform, enabling B2B interactions between local firms and global partners. This series does more than disseminate information; it actively facilitates connections between buyers and sellers in real-time, transcending geographical and time zone barriers.”