International Groups

Those who were able to join SWBC’s quarterly virtual conference on the 4th December will have seen something of our international activity. You may be less aware of the day-to-day efforts that are being made to bring our region closer to other centres of economic opportunity around the world. Whether you were a remainer or a leaver, we recognise in post-BREXIT Britain the need for our region and our country to seek out new opportunities. Consequently, SWBC currently has teams looking closely at Africa, China and India using experts and taking advantage of the great knowledge and expertise within our region from people who have their origins in such locations. There is great strength in being able to bring together multi-ethnic teams that can share their differing perspectives and experiences with a view to creating business links that are highly beneficial to all parties.

Africa

This focus is shared by the DIT and in the case of Africa, it is worth looking at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/uk-africa-trade-relationship-emma-wade-smith-obe/ to see how closely we are aligned. The Africa team has also created links with the British African Business Alliance (BABA) who share the same vision.

Those who joined the 4th December conference will have seen Queen Diambi Kabatusuila who was the keynote speaker. We continue to work with the Queen and her team on a major multi-faceted programme for the River Congo, pulling together our South West expertise in waterways and low carbon technology with coordinating international experts. Preventing plastics from entering the oceans while stopping invasive species from entering the river from ships’ ballast water combine with the establishment of zero-emission ferry services and other facets of development. This plays to our regional strengths and it is anticipated that such a programme could be duplicated elsewhere, and interest is already being expressed for Lagos Lagoon and for the River Zambezi. There is already interest from funders and applying to issue carbon credits also forms part of the programme. If you feel you can contribute in any way or want to know more, please contact chrismarow@btinternet.com.

Among other things, the team is working on the establishment of mini-grids and on the strengthening of agriculture supply chains. Dr. Lise Hunter of Plymouth University is a key member of the Africa team and is originally from Cameroon. A former FCO/UKTI employee promoting trade and investment between the UK and Africa, she has first-hand knowledge of business development in Africa. The following is an opportunity to be part of the growing supply chain linked to the strategic agri-industry sector in Africa:

Banana crops are abundantly available across many parts of Africa as a perishable fruit with very short shelf life and a significant amount of waste that is left to rot in the plantation. Mazimba Ltd, an SME located in Tanzania, and the Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology in Arusha, Tanzania, have established an innovative way of improving and expanding banana processing into different products. The business currently processes 175 tonnes of bananas purchased from smallholder farmers to produce 416,000 litres of sweet and dry wines, which is largely commercialised in Tanzania hospitality and domestic markets.  The next phase plans to use the banana pulp (leftovers after juice is extracted from ripened bananas) to produce bread and baby foods (biscuits and snacks). They also propose to purchase banana stems from farmers and press them to get banana fibers that are used to produce mats, ladies’ handbags, gunny bags, carpets, table mats; and use banana peel to produce soap. Residues will be composted into manure and used on banana farms.

Mazimba Ltd and Dr Askwar Hilonga, from Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology, attended a workshop chaired by Professor Iain Stewart at the University of Plymouth in July 2019 to explore sustainable solutions to farming and soil management.

Mazimba is looking for Business partners in the UK who can bring expertise and help to secure finance (approx. GBP300,000) to take the business to the next phase of growth in domestic and international markets.

To find out more about this opportunity please contact lise.hunter@plymouth.ac.uk

China

Meanwhile our China team work through Bridgwater and Changzhou based China/UK who are experts in the Chinese market. Darren Horne first worked closely with China on behalf of the government in his native New Zealand and the vital multi-ethnic balance is provided by Dr ZHU Aili. Both are highly connected in China and have achieved major breakthroughs in linking technical colleges in China and the UK by overcoming incompatibilities in the two countries’ qualification structures. They have several Chinese economic development zones queuing up to work with the team. Numerous innovative companies have already successfully secured licensing and tech transfer agreements and partnerships to their great advantage.

Currently the team are working on a project that will see the City of Nanjing, on the south bank of the Yangtse, cooperate with Southwest Business Council for assisting southwest companies to take advantage of the many benefits of working with China. The project helps UK education providers, cultural ambassadors and business and enterprise leaders to learn more about Chinese culture and business cooperation opportunities.

The UK has an abundance of innovation that has enormous potential value on the global market. However, there are several reasons why its commercialisation with China often fails. For a start, there is widespread concern about the safety of intellectual property. There are historic reasons for this that are well understood by the Chinese government and have caused them to tighten up severely on copyright infringement. Thus, as long as you are correctly advised, your IP is well protected.

The project with Nanjing has been supported at the highest level of Government in China. As the SWBC China Team has the best contacts and understanding of the market, interested members can feel assured of both success and safety. If you are interested in learning more, please contact chrismarrow@btinternet.com.

Dr ZHU Aili, reports – Part of the Chinese economic development strategy is to import innovation with the intention of manufacturing and re-exporting. Quite often Chinese partners that support manufacturing with UK partners are also investors in innovation themselves with global connections.

The Economic Development Zones are run by government personnel in China and, the Chinese government will oversee and support projects that involve secure IP and manufacturing under licence. It is important to the Chinese government to install confidence in the Chinese systems, laws, and business culture to enable the opening up and sustainability of international trade.

Therefore, our project with JiangBei Economic Development Zone and in turn, the Nanjing Government, is highly valuable to us. They will help us to ensure our SWBC members have safe, enjoyable, and successful access to China, and long-term friendships with Chinese people.

India

Tony Parry has long been closely connected to SWBC and has a lifetime of experience of working with India. He is firming up on connections with organisations such as the UK India Business Council with a view to spreading SWBC’s international reach to include the Indian sub-continent. Contact tony_parry@talktalk.net if you would like to know more.

Conclusion

If you want to spread your wings, SWBC ‘s international teams would love to hear from you.