21 March 2018

  |  CBI Northern Ireland

News

Connecting across continents - new SME Network launched in Northern Ireland

CBI’s International team were in Belfast this week to help launch the business organisation’s SME Network.

Pictured at the launch of CBI SME Network on 21 March at the Merchant Hotel Belfast, is Sean Lavery, Partner, BDO; Angela McGowan, Director, CBI Northern Ireland and John Dickerman, Head of Group, CBI Washingtion Pictured at the launch of CBI SME Network on 21 March at the Merchant Hotel Belfast, is Sean Lavery, Partner, BDO; Angela McGowan, Director, CBI Northern Ireland and John Dickerman, Head of Group, CBI Washingtion

The new SME Network has been rolled out across the UK to support small and medium-sized members who are on a clear growth trajectory. The forum sponsored by BDO will enable members to share experiences and best practice, and take away key learnings from expert speakers.

Welcoming 15 CEOs and MDs on 21 March to the Merchant Hotel Belfast, Angela McGowan, CBI Regional Director said: 

“High performing small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of the Northern Irish economy - they played a leading role in our recovery from the global financial crisis and they will be even more important as we navigate the challenges and uncertainty posed by Brexit.

“Not only is the SME sector continuing to grow and deliver jobs, it also provides the dynamic, reliable and adaptable supply chain that makes Northern Ireland such an attractive destination for companies to invest.

“Just over a year ago, the draft NI Industrial Strategy set ourselves the challenge of becoming one of the world’s most innovative and competitive small advanced economies. If that is still our ambition, then the SME sector will go a long way to powering progress towards that goal.”

Introducing the theme of ‘Exporting: Barriers to Entry’, John Dickerman, Head of Group, CBI Washington said:

“While the U.S. remains a hugely desirable place for foreign investment, the political environment presents unique challenges for companies looking to enter the market or expand their existing footprint.

“To counter this challenge, the U.S. Administration must limit rhetoric and policies that are detrimental to global trade and show itself as an open market.  This will encourage U.K. business to expand their already significant investment in the U.S.”

Providing concluding remarks, Sean Lavery, Partner, BDO, said:

“As the world around us continues to change, it’s important that small and mid-sized entrepreneurial businesses are encouraged to make bigger footprints on international markets. 

There are great examples that show how fleet-footed businesses are rolling up their sleeves and generating sales in markets, but this can and should be the norm for all businesses.

“There is no reason why firms here cannot extend their reach and growth by making the most of technological and market changes.

If we are to make the most of talents, skills and position, we need to foster an economy that puts high-growth, entrepreneurially spirited businesses at the heart of its thinking.”