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Sounding Board Initiative To Upskill New Exporters

April 11, 2005

Sounding Board Initiative To Upskill New Exporters

Experienced Bay of Plenty exporters are involved in an initiative to help those new to the industry learn more about selling their product overseas.

Export New Zealand Bay of Plenty has established this country's first 'Sounding Board' allowing new exporters to tap into their experienced counterparts' knowledge.

Executive officer Joanne Buxton says the Sounding Board idea came after she received many calls from people wanting to know if there was someone they could talk to about exporting their product or service.

"There are no text books available for those who want to learn about exporting, so the best way to gain an insight is to tap into the wealth of knowledge held by experienced exporters.

"What better way to learn about exporting to Bahrain, for example, than to talk to someone who's been doing just that for the past five years? You could find out how they broke into the market? Ask who their agent is? Or what the cultural situation is in Bahrain and will it effect my export?"

Buxton says regular Export New Zealand Bay of Plenty networking helps to answer some questions, but the idea of having an exporting mentor who works with you one-on-one on a monthly basis has been a popular one.

"Our Sounding Board mentors are experienced in a wide variety of areas, such as manufacturing processes, future planning, pricing strategies and branding markets. This means as well as helping to break into specific markets, they can also provide advice about exporting practices.

"Sometimes when you are working hard towards getting your product exported, it's easy to get tunnel vision. Obstacles can seem insurmountable and things can be very frustrating.

"For this very reason the Sounding Board is of interest to some of our most experienced Export Bay of Plenty members, not just our newer members. It certainly helps to talk through things with someone who is on the same wavelength as you."

Buxton says because each overseas market is so different some experienced exporters can feel like beginners if trying to break into a new country.

"Exporting is a different ball game in each country. You may be experienced in trading with Korea, but to move into the Thai or Japanese markets is very different again. This also applies to the European markets."

The Sounding Board is a free service to Export New Zealand Bay of Plenty members. Buxton says Export New Zealand will be watching the initiative closely, with a view to roll the programme out over the whole country if it proves a success.

"It makes sense to start the Sounding Board in the Bay, one of the strongest exporting regions in the country, backed by New Zealand's biggest exporting port at Tauranga."


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