Why export assistance isn't for struggling businesses

Exporting can increase your revenue streams as well as your brand recognition globally. Yet a misconception that government assistance is only for ailing businesses stops many from tapping into specialist support.

Speaking on the My Business Podcast, Bruce Billson, former federal small business minister and now Efic ambassador, says Efic can help successful businesses become even more successful in new locations.

“Some years back people were saying, ‘Why are you in existence, Efic? We've got banks. What do we need an Efic for?’ Well, the answer is there's a market failure there,” Bruce says.

“The big banks don't want to get behind exporting SMEs, particularly if they've already got the exporting SME's house and their first born, and every bit of collateral going around.

A businessman looking down at the top of a building“They are not going to throw extra finance just to help secure a contract that's already in hand and just needs working capital to get it done.”

According to Bruce, export assistance generally supports businesses with turnovers between $250,000 to $10 million, and demonstrate a solid exporting strategy.

A number of businesses that have sought, and been granted, export assistance from Efic have gone on to achieve substantial growth.

One such example is the winery Zonte’s Footstep, located in the south of Adelaide. Zonte’s Footstep was seeing 60 per cent of its revenue come in through exporting. Bruce recounts the business wanted to extend this to 80 per cent, however increased business orders had put pressure on cash flow.

After applying with Efic for an SME export loan, Zonte’s Footstep was able to fulfil the higher orders and maintain its growth trajectory.

“They got [an SME export loan], and they're happy campers. They'd maxed out their security with their other banks,” Bruce says.

Not only traditional businesses are able to access export assistance, but businesses that look to attempt new and potentially risky modes of delivery also have assistance available to them.

Bruce recounts LearnToPlayMusic.com, a global online music education provider, which also has gained Efic support despite many other lenders being unwilling to lend it funds.

“How do you keep servicing the platform you've got while you're pivoting to new delivery modes? Again, this is something that the Efic small business export loan can help with,” Bruce says.

According to Efic’s Exporter Sentiment Index for February, over half of exporting Australian SMEs (51 per cent) are confident that they are in a better financial position than 12 months ago, and 57 per cent view the next 12 months to be in an even better financial position.

Hear more insights from Bruce on exporting with Efic, and the lessons he has for SME owners from his time as a federal small business minister on the My Business Podcast now!

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