ICC | Trade Matters - Small business - Case studies

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Why #TradeMatters to small business

Our series of #TradeMatters case studies aims to plainly illustrate the benefits of international commerce for SMEs who face significant barriers when it comes to accessing global markets. If you are an international small business, submit your story to us including a one-line description of your company and why trade matters to you.


A.B.G.S. (Nepal)

ABGS Group is based in Kathmandu and has three businesses: data analytics consulting, data outsourcing operations and Chatbot Management System which uses Artificial Intelligence.

WHY TRADE MATTERS TO US

Being able to sell internationally has allowed us to bring in more revenue than if we had focused on a single market.
Ayush Neupane, CEO

WHAT REFORMS CAN HELP US DO MORE

We need to relax foreign currency control laws for small investments: it would make it easier to expand businesses.

A.B.G.S Case study
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Air-English (Belgium)

Air-English is a small enterprise active in language services for the aeronautics industry. We have developed an exclusive methodology of language assessment for pilots, air traffic controllers, technicians and ground crew.

WHY TRADE MATTERS TO US

More than 7,000 candidates all over the world are already certified by Air-English. By offering exam locations in over 10 countries, we have extended our reach to aviation professionals worldwide and offer them a language assessment that is tailored to their professional reality.”
Frederic Colson, CEO
Air English Case study
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AME (Austria)

AME is a globally active Austrian healthcare technology solution provider, engineering and trading company. With less than 50 employees, AME implements complex health care technology by equipping hospitals and providing eHealth solutions in emerging markets like Vietnam, China, Indonesia, Albania and Mongolia.

WHY TRADE MATTERS TO US

We source technology components and equipment from Europe and the United States and create innovative and sustainable solutions around the globe. International trade has allowed us to improve the quality of and access to health care services for 20 million patients worldwide.”.
Heinz Messinger, Managing Director

WHAT REFORMS CAN HELP US DO MORE

Free trade agreements and economic unions will help to harmonise taxation and customs clearance procedures. Strong implementation of anti-corruption measures will reduce risks, enhance business opportunities and free our resources to do what we can do best – help people get better.

AME Case study
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Bio-X Diagnostics (Belgium)

Bio-X Diagnostics is a biotechnology company specializing in the development, production and marketing of diagnostic kits for diseases of livestock.

WHY TRADE MATTERS TO US

Export activities make up 80% of our turnover. The Belgian market is too small to allow Bio-X Diagnostics to survive and develop properly. This is why our company attaches such importance to ensure its visibility in the European Union and at the international level in countries such as China, Japan, Turkey and the United States.
Annita Ginter, CEO
Bio-X Diagnostics Case study
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Bookbarn International

Bookbarn International is a second-hand and antiquarian bookshop near Bristol, United Kingdom. Bookbarn launched its online operation in 2008 and now sees annual turnover of £1.2m, with up to 85% from online business.

WHY TRADE MATTERS TO US

“The first major benefit was the massive growth in our global audience; we have eBay buyers in territories as far away as India, China and Japan. Taking the business online seemed slightly daunting at first, but the speed and volume of sales we started seeing straightaway made it all worth it!”
William Pryor, Director
Bookbarn International Case study
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California Motorcycle

California Motorcycles repairs and sells motorcycles, automotive parts and accessories. In 2008, owner Burguera Frank noticed that he had expensive parts and accessories that didn’t work for local customers and began selling these products online.

WHY TRADE MATTERS TO US

“Without the Internet, we wouldn’t be able to reach customers all over the world. Selling on Ebay has helped expand our physical business. It’s like having a virtual shop in every country around the world.”
Frank Burguera, Owner
California Motorcycle Case study
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CARPASUS (Switzerland)

CARPASUS is a sustainable fashion start-up company based in Switzerland. We launched our first collection in 2016 and offer high-quality clothing made from sustainable materials under fair working conditions and a fully transparent supply chain.

WHY TRADE MATTERS TO US

The textile industry has always been a highly internationalized industry. Global trade facilitates access to markets e.g. for the small-scale farmers in India, where we source our organic fair trade cotton from. Trade – done sustainably – should not only create economic value but also reduce poverty and preserve our precious environmental resources.
Michael Zaech, Co-founder

WHAT REFORMS CAN HELP US DO MORE

As a Swiss company, exports are essential for us to grow our business. To enable international growth, we would appreciate fewer trade barriers and fewer tariffs on exports. We would also like to see more solutions tailored to small businesses in the areas of internationalization, logistics, and access to finance. On a global level, we call for social and environmental standards, sustainable trade and investment in the green economy.

CARPASUS Case study
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Cibo (Belgium)

Cibo is a solution-driven provider of technical abrasive materials with unique expertise in the machining and finishing of stainless steel, aluminum and high quality titanium and cobalt alloys.

WHY TRADE MATTERS TO US

Growing export sales enabled Cibo to evolve from only a converter to a producer of high quality technical abrasives. We are now able to supply many new key accounts and focus on new markets. These additional sales have led us to establish a sales organisation in the United States and the construction of a new high-tech production facility based in Flanders.
Dominique Gilles, CEO
CIBO Case study
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Cilingiroglu (Turkey)

Cilingiroglu is a family-owned business operating in the footwear sector. We are currently the fourth generation running the company and we will be celebrating our 90th anniversary this year.

WHY TRADE MATTERS TO US

We have been importing footwear and orthotics from Europe and the United States for a very long time. Trade has allowed us to be a pioneer in Turkey in our sector, by introducing the latest comfort technologies of the world into our market. It has always been the major differentiating factor for our company.
Basak Kurtoglu, Retail and Marketing Manager, Shoe City

WHAT REFORMS CAN HELP US DO MORE

In order for innovative, technological, imported products to be priced competitively, it is important not to face any additional tariffs on footwear imports. Any additional tax should exclude technological or medical products which are not available on the local market. Cilingiroglu (Turkey)

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Emelyanov & Sons (Russia)

Founded in 1992, Emelyanov & Sons is the world’s only manufactory of amber-encrusted redwood products, ranging from artistic accessories to luxurious furniture.

WHY TRADE MATTERS TO US

Trading internationally has helped us get a clear picture of client demand for our products on international markets and has largely contributed to winning new customers. We are now planning to gradually expand and enhance our brand recognition thanks to trade.
Alexander V. Emelyanov, Emelyanov & Sons
Cilingiroglu (Turkey)
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Herman Headwear (Belgium)

Herman Headwear is a Belgian and international headwear specialist producing a variety of hats, caps, bonnets and accessories. Established over 140 years ago, we offer an incomparable range of headwear for all seasons.

WHY TRADE MATTERS TO US

Herman Headwear is already well established in Europe and in 2015 began sales to the United States and Canada. As Belgium has a temperate climate and a minority of headwear users, internationalization is essential to us to cater to countries with distinct seasons and where the culture of wearing hats and caps is more prominent.

Targeting our potential customers is essential for our business development. With its vast territory of different climates, a culture of headwear and 320 million potential heads to cover, the United States responded to our development expectations.
Alexandre Herman, CEO
Herman-Headwear Case study
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Inventec Performance Chemicals (France)

Inventec Performance Chemicals (France), a company of the family-run group Dehon, has been serving high-tech markets for over 40 years, providing high performance and sustainable solutions through our chemical formulations and services.

WHY TRADE MATTERS TO US

International trading has accelerated Inventec’s growth through worldwide customer reach, international market feedback and cross-cultural experience. Going global has been a major driver of our business success.
Patrice Rollet, CEO

WHAT REFORMS CAN HELP US DO MORE

SMEs have difficulties accessing short- and long-term financing opportunities, especially when it comes to trade finance. There are also many barriers that prevent us from recruiting international talent.

Inventec Case study
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Kabelwerk Eupen AG (Belgium)

Kabelwerk Eupen AG is an independent leading European manufacturer of power and telecommunication cables with more than 100 years of experience in cable production. We employ 850 people in our production facilities for cables, pipes and foam in Belgium.

WHY TRADE MATTERS TO US

The only way to steadily grow our business was to export to surrounding countries and worldwide. Our location in Eupen, in the heart of Europe, combined multilingual staff, has facilitated our international development. Our wide product range and focus on niche markets and products in a global market have built a very solid business base for our company.
Mike Goblet, Executive VP Sales & Marketing
Kabelwerk Case study
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Karl Hugo (Belgium)

Since 1970 Karl Hugo has been designing and manufacturing customized industrial machinery and production lines, for industries including steel, chemistry, energy, medical, glass, plastics, food and mining, for a wide range of companies in Europe, the Americas and Asia.

WHY TRADE MATTERS TO US

Even for a small-sized mechanical engineering company like ours, the Belgian market is too small to carry the necessary demand in terms of volume or to meet our production capacity. Without the benefits of global trade, our company wouldn’t have blossomed the way it has over the last 15 years, and we wouldn’t have developed our market and technical knowledge to the extent that we have. For the Belgian industry, exporting is not a luxury but a matter of survival.
Bernd Hugo, CEO
Karl Hugo Case study
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Lavastone (France)

Pierre Richard Lavastone, an artisan workshop, designs and manufactures worktops made with enamelled lava stone from volcanoes in the French region of Auvergne.

WHY TRADE MATTERS TO US

Having participated in several international interior design expos, our export business has greatly increased, particularly in the United States. Increasing our levels of production has allowed us to hire two new people and has created an organizational structure that supports our businesses abroad.
Nathalie Conesa, Commercial and Exports Director
CARPASUS Case study
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Leroux (France)

Leroux, operating since 1858, offers hot and cold beverages made from chicory root to meet the demand of consumers for healthy and all natural drinks and ingredients.

WHY TRADE MATTERS TO US

By exporting all over the world we have to meet requirements of the most demanding foreign markets, including Japan, where we developed sales of an instant chicory drink from 0-€60K within three years. We reached that goal both by offering a high quality product and via collaboration with our importer who shared knowledge of local regulations, intercultural differences and an understanding of customer needs.
Olivier Hermand, President
leroux Case study
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LinoLed

LinoLed imports LED lighting from China and is a specialist for the transportation and agriculture sectors.

WHY TRADE MATTERS TO US

As 90% of our revenues are generated online, trade has allowed our market to grow beyond Dutch borders. We have found a stabile logistics partner (DHL) that is key in managing our import and export flows, helping to achieve our current growth.
Frans van de Sanden, Director
Marianne van de Sanden, Co-Director
Linoled Case study
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Lupulus (Belgium)

The brewery Les trois fourquets produces, conditions and sells the craft beer “Lupulus”. Based in Courtil, Belgium, the company employs 15 people and was founded in 2007 by Pierre Gobron.

WHY TRADE MATTERS TO US

Our brewery exports more than 60% of its global production, with Italy and France being the main markets. International trade has become essential for us. Though sold and produced locally, our beer has a strong appeal to foreign clients. International trade has helped advance business development with revenue from foreign sales allowing us to finance new material, hire personnel and invest in research to improve our products.
Pierre Gobron, CEO
Lupulus Case study
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Mando Group (Sweden)

Mando Group is a healthcare company with six Mandometer® Clinics in three countries. Using the Mandometer® Method, we treat eating disorders and obesity.

WHY TRADE MATTERS TO US

Being able to distribute our services on an international level gives us the possibility to help more people who suffer from eating disorders and obesity.
Cecilia Bergh, CEO

WHAT REFORMS CAN HELP US DO MORE

Easier access to global markets would help us provide our services to international customers rather than having to bring them here.

Mando Group
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MEB Metal (Turkey)

MEB Metal is the leading zinc oxide producer in Turkey. We are a family-owned business and have been active for over 30 years.

WHY TRADE MATTERS TO US

We started exporting our goods to Europe in 1994. Trading internationally has created a win-win situation both for us and our partners across the globe. We now have more investment opportunities and funds for research and the development of more value-added products.
Evren Kumcu, General Manager

WHAT REFORMS CAN HELP US DO MORE

We need to remove unfair international trade barriers to create a wealthier and more peaceful world.

MEB Case study
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Monsoon Aquatics (Australia)

Monsoon Aquatics is a licensed Australian collector of aquarium fish and corals. We supply sustainably collected quality products for people to enjoy all around the world.

WHY TRADE MATTERS TO US

Export trade accounted for almost 40% of our sales in 2015 and we expect that to grow to 55% over the next few years. To know a piece of coral that has been hand-selected and cared for by us will end up in an aquarium being admired as far away as the United States, Italy and Japan is deeply satisfying.
Daniel Kimberley, Director and Business Owner
Monsoon Case study
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Raporal (Portugal)

MRaporal is a family-oriented agrobusiness with over 45 years of experience in the production of animal protein. We are based in Portugal with five industrial units and more than 45 units of livestock production.

WHY TRADE MATTERS TO US

In 2015, Raporal's export value was €30 million in three continents – Europe, Asia and America. Our international activity has allowed us to employ more than 560 workers in the last year, and our global turnover, including our domestic revenues, was higher than €160 million.
Mario Guarda, Administrator

WHAT REFORMS CAN HELP US DO MORE

Regarding the external market, it is essential that the government shows commitment to enable our country to explore new markets and support the development of guarantee tools for effective collection, in cases such as Angola.
Raporal Case study
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Riberalves (Portugal)

Riberalves, a 100% Portuguese family-oriented company, is a codfish production and commercialization leader. With 30 years of history, our company stands out due to its strong innovation capability, present in more than 20 countries.

WHY TRADE MATTERS TO US

In 2000, Riberalves invested in a new product – ready to cook codfish – boosting exportation, and reaching markets usually more resistant to the preparation and consumption of traditional Portuguese codfish. Exports are still growing and represent approximately 40% of our company's business volume: €145 million.
Ricardo Alves, Administrator

WHAT REFORMS CAN HELP US DO MORE

Riberalves exports to Brazil and Angola. In Brazil, the process of product licensing is quite lengthy and it can take more than six months to get an exportation license. In Angola, the costs and the time to get the licensing is a great hurdle to export.
Riberalves Case study
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Sanabel (Jordan)

Sanabel Landscape Design and Services is a family-owned company founded in 1986. It is one of Jordan’s pioneer agricultural and landscape architecture firms. It has introduced and initiated several products and industries to the local market, including plant production and flower catering. Sanabel is one of the only top firms specializing in high quality landscape design and execution in Jordan and the region.

WHY TRADE MATTERS TO US

Sanabel was one of the first companies to import plants from Europe and has introduced new plants to the Jordanian market that were previously unknown locally. Our effort to stay up to date with landscape technology – attending international exhibitions and building relationships with international suppliers – has positioned us as a leader in quality and innovation.
Magnus Welander, CEO & President

WHAT REFORMS CAN HELP US DO MORE

Sanabel was one of the first companies to import plants from Europe and has introduced new plants to the Jordanian market that were previously unknown locally. Our effort to stay up to date with landscape technology – attending international exhibitions and building relationships with international suppliers – has positioned us as a leader in quality and innovation

Thule Case study
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Santiveri (Spain)

Santiveri is a Spanish company and a pioneer in the sector of healthy and functional food with over 130 years of experience. We produce and distribute functional food products and dietary supplements and are committed to sustainability, ecology and healthy living.

WHY TRADE MATTERS TO US

Santiveri has been exporting its philosophy and products to the world for over 50 years. This is why we feel that it is in our DNA to be sensitive and very receptive to the reciprocal influences in different markets. This empowers us to offer better products and be innovative in our sector.
Carlos Perseguer, CEO

WHAT REFORMS CAN HELP US DO MORE

When we export our products, brand and product registration and listing can take months, sometimes even years. Technical know-how and enormous capacity are required to adapt to the different needs of given markets, even within the European Union. Streamlining of trade procedures could help us develop our international activity in a more effective way.

Santiveri Case study
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Solstudio Textile Design (Russia)

Solstudio Textile Design is a unique Russian company specializing in textile design and high-end products including scarves, shawls, umbrellas and other accessories.

WHY TRADE MATTERS TO US

We are pioneers on the Russian market of textile printing and design, exporting our products to 30 countries. Our company was established to be export-oriented and sell original patterns and designs. International trade has contributed to increased sales and profits and has helped us start high-end production and promote our business on the domestic market.
Alexandra Kaloshina, Owner

WHAT REFORMS CAN HELP US DO MORE

We experience a significant lack of support in terms of information and foreign media coverage. We would welcome government assistance in this regard to enhance our brand recognition. The introduction of international education programmes to develop industry expertise on the national level would also help us to do more.

Solstudio Case study
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Sugal Group (Portugal)

Sugal Group has been a family-owned company for over six decades and is a key player in the food processing industry on tomatoes and fruit purees. We have five facilities worldwide: two in Portugal, two in Chile and one in Spain.

WHY TRADE MATTERS TO US

If we say tomatoes have been our essence from the start then trade has been a co-partner, as we have always exported. We started a growth process at the beginning of the century by increasing the total processed volume. As a market-oriented company, we export over 95% of our products and trade has obviously played a key role in our growth. In fact no exporting company can have sustainable growth without trade.
Pedro Couceiro, Administrator and Manager

WHAT REFORMS CAN HELP US DO MORE

Trade should above all be fair and we expect to compete under equal conditions. As a food processing company within the European Union, we have to follow certain rules, namely environmental, that are key for the sustainability of our world. These same standards must be fulfilled by domestic companies that are only entering the internal market. The flexible adoption of sustainability rules may imply lower costs for some of our competitors, but ends up having a higher impact on the environment.

Sugal Group Case study
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TePe (Sweden)

TePe develops, manufactures and sells high quality, functional oral hygiene products in cooperation with dental experts. TePe is a Swedish company founded in 1965 and its products are today used daily in 60 countries.

WHY TRADE MATTERS TO US

Improved oral health is greatly beneficial to national health: our products help improve both. Being able to trade internationally gives us the opportunity to distribute our products more widely, resulting in improved oral health for more people around the world.
Joel Eklund, CEO

WHAT REFORMS CAN HELP US DO MORE

Facilitated access to markets would help us grow in markets where the importance of preventive oral care is recognised and supported by national health authorities.

TEPE Case study
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Thule Group (Sweden)

Thule Group is based in Malmo, Sweden and develops products for outdoor activities including transportation solutions that make it easier for people to enjoy an active life. We have more than 50 production and sales locations all over the world.

WHY TRADE MATTERS TO US

International trade has contributed to boosting employment opportunities at our company and has enabled us to help more families enjoy an active lifestyle.
Magnus Welander, CEO & President

WHAT REFORMS CAN HELP US DO MORE

Though we have been able to trade around the world in a relatively easy way the continuous need to remove unfair trade barriers is key for the future.

Thule Case study
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World Technology Corporation (United States)

World Technology Corp. is an export management company that is specialized in exporting US-made renewable energy and water treatment equipment. Based in the United States, World Technology has exported US-made solar energy products to over 45 countries.

WHY TRADE MATTERS TO US

Exporting has helped our company stabilise its sales and provided a financial cushion during the last recession. People say what we do – exporting – is risky. We believe that not exporting in today's global economy is a much riskier position to take.
Peter Tierney, Managing Director
World Technology Case study
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Yoga Tree (Switzerland)

Yoga Tree is a family-run online shop for all things yoga in Switzerland and Europe. Our activity is sustainable at every step, from production to delivery.

WHY TRADE MATTERS TO US

It is not easy to find beautiful things produced in a sustainable way. Being able to search the world for the best companies with the best policies gave us a great advantage. Our orders span from New Zealand to California and our international activity has allowed us to support and help grow our green partners.
Enrique Sanz & Mara Bertelli, Co-Founders and CEOs

WHAT REFORMS CAN HELP US DO MORE

Europe is a peculiar marketplace and there are huge differences in markets on a relatively small territory. Information on potential markets can make a great difference. Import/export taxes and shipping costs eat most of our margins. A simplified tax system could help us do more.

Yoga Tree Case study
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