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Businesses push export agenda to curb dependence on banks for US$

Published: 
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
From left: Gabriel Faria, CEO of T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Marcus Sun Kow, managing director, Fresh Start Ltd, Dale Parson, CEO Kaliedoscope, Nicky Maharaj, general manager Intersol, Sheldon Wood, sales director, Carib Brewery and consultant Usha Samsundar.

Exporters yesterday declared that the time had come to reduce dependance on commercial banks for US currency, stating that increasing export volumes was now a priority.

Managing director, Fresh Start Ltd, Marcus Sun Kow said within a three-year period he wanted to increase his exports to 35 per cent of business sales.

Sun Kow was part of a panel discussion titled, "An Export toolkit: Market Selection to Profit Optimisation," which was held yesterday at the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Westmoorings.

Outlining one of the mistakes his company made, Sun Kow said his company sent goods into a country without doing an integrated marketing strategy in order for the target market to recognise his brand and product.

In the end, the product expired on the shelves.

Dale Parson, chief executive, Kaleidoscope Paints Ltd (KPL) said he went through a reality check in 2016, when his business did not have the US currency to settle bills.

He said his business was at "the mercy" of commercial banks as the company looked for US currency.

"When I checked our revenue from exports it was 26 per cent and we are always at the mercy of commercial banks to find US dollars. There is no other way but to export," he said.

"What we realise is that we have 26 per cent of our total revenue which comes from US dollars. We need to be independent of commercial banks, we need to be closer to 60 per cent, so I need to more than double my exports in as short as possible period of time."

He added that in order to penetrate a market that is not English-speaking, there is need to have bilingual sales managers on call.

Parson said if the dollar slides downward in the next three months, a business owner should have a plan in place to deal with this.

"In a short space of time, by March if the dollar slides and it becomes harder and harder to get US dollars, you should try to shift some of your existing resources to export, I urge everybody to that."

"It is a wake up call. We have hired bilingual export commercial managers, bilingual administrators. We are still building on market penetration in those existing Caribbean markets, we need to go outside and we have to put resources in place to get the market data and fix the front end."

Some countries which KPL exports to include: Antigua, Belize, Suriname, Dominica, Guyana, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Grenada and Haiti.

Sheldon Wood, Carib Brewery Ltd said the infrastructure must be in place to support the business' ambition to export outside of its domestic market.

"On a team you need to have people who are focused on generating demand, you can't have one person doing everything all at once. There must be a team that generates demand for the brand, as well as the operational side of the business must be soundly taken care of."