Article by Caroline Hong, which appeared in the May 2013 issue of the My Business magazine and also on MSME news network.
Championing the SME cause at home and abroad
“THE SMEAA WELCOMES COLLABORATION WITH GOVERNMENT TO ENHANCE BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES FOR SMEs.”
April is an interesting month for SMEs in Australia. The SME Association of Australia was one of the organisations that supported the first Significant Investor Conference, organised by Basis Point, held in Sydney on April 9 and sponsored by One Investment Group, Perpetual, Holding Redlich, NAB Private Wealth, Moelis & Company, Moore Stephens, and Macquarie Bank.
SMEs in Australia present a ‘gold mine’ opportunity for the significant investor. Already there is an emerging recognition for the SMEAA to raise the awareness of business matchmaking for the significant investor seeking direct investments into Australian SMEs.
The SME Association of Australia and a number of Aussie SMEs already in Shanghai and Hangzhou recently for Australia China Business Week (ACBW) appeared to enjoy greater attention from our Chinese business partners. It was so obvious that it is important that any international business engagement strategy requires more than words and statements of intent. Australian SMEs were given a very warm welcome in China, just by virtue of visiting the country.
At the ACBW events in Shanghai and in Hangzhou, SMEs engaged in business matchmaking activities via focussed pitch sessions as well as social interactions during the lunches, dinners and networking drinks. Much attention was given to cultural awareness and the promotion of understanding between Aussie SMEs and potential Chinese investors, SME organisations such as the SMEAA and enterprising entrepreneurs.
China is an exciting space for Aussie SMEs, presenting enormous opportunities for a future of great potential growth and prosperity. China is indeed becoming a leading modernised nation.
While China is a major focus for many SMEs, within our own borders NSW has taken the lead to expand its international engagement strategy to 10 priority international markets. In our SME world, so much has been happening and it is pleasing to hear NSW Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner announce that NSW has expanded its international engagement strategy following recommendations from the Hon Warwick Smith AM, Chair of the NSW international engagement taskforce.
Smith, Chairman of ANZ Bank (NSW & ACT) and also Chair of the NSW Export and Investment Advisory Board, led the high level steering group which conducted the review. Priority markets identified in the strategy were Japan, the US, China, the UK, India, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, South Korea, Singapore and Indonesia.
Priority sectors included professional services, construction/infrastructure, advanced manufacturing, education and research, information and communication technology, clean technology, mining, agribusiness, and tourism. The NSW International Engagement Strategy can be found at www.business.nsw.gov.au/ies.
The SME Association of Australia welcomes collaboration with government to enhance business opportunities for SMEs. In April, I was also asked to comment on a book relating to life partners matchmaking. This topic coincidentally also occupied three full pages in the recent Australian Financial Review news about the emerging business of matchmaking life partners. Stories of the ‘Love Hunter’ and matchmaking are fascinating businesses, and in a way they are reminders that although there are no easy answers, there are some similarities in what is required for successful partnerships in life and in business.
So, whether it is SME business matchmaking, international engagement and the significant investor, there is certainly a role for the SME Association of Australia to take the lead in helping SMEs connect, grow and prosper. We can do this by successful business matchmaking, expanding international engagement and attracting a very significant group of potential investors seeking to invest directly in Australian SMEs. The SMEAA is certainly gaining an increasing footprint for SMEs in Australia and internationally.
On a final note, I was unfortunately unable to attend our first SMEAA Networking event for 2013 as I was still in China, but by all reports it was a great night with a large number attending and learning more about business from each other. You can read our report on the evening on page 50 of the May 2013 issue of My Business.
With acknowledgement and thanks to MyBusiness http://www.mybusiness.com.au
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My Business is the official publication of the SME Association of Australia http://www.smeaustralia.asn.au
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