Countries / Territories

Certificate in Small Business Internationalization

  • What is the certification in small business internationalization?

    Trade and Investment Support Institutions (TISIs) throughout the world share a common mandate: to provide high quality export assistance and to set-up comprehensive programs to boost export activities of local businesses, particularly of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). In achieving this objective, one of the key challenges TISIs face is the lack of qualified resources to design and implement the solutions needed to support the international expansion of local enterprises.

    The Certificate in Small Business Internationalization (CSBI) addresses this problem by offering TISIs a capacity-building programme designed to help them strengthen their technical capabilities to support SMEs in their internationalization efforts. The programme will train and certify technical staff and affiliated consultants of partner institutions on business competitiveness, SME internationalization, and export management.

    At the end of the programme, partner institutions will have a pool of highly qualified advisors able to support local SMEs in their quest for international competitiveness. Advisors will be able to use ITC’s tools and methodologies to conduct rigorous business diagnostics and provide customized advisory services to SMEs.

    Throughout the implementation of the programme, ITC will work with partner institutions to develop a work-plan for deploying the newly trained advisors and developing or strengthening existing services for internationalizing SMEs. The objective is to increase the impact of the programme by ensuring internationalization support services of high quality are available to the entire SME community.

    By contributing to the growth and internationalization of SMEs, the programme generates important impact at the economic and social level. A strong, dynamic, and export oriented SME sector offers advancement opportunities throughout society, including for women and youth, and plays a critical role in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

    How do SMEs become internationally competitive?

    Becoming competitive is a long-term aspiration for companies and a sine-qua-non condition for SMEs in highly dynamic markets. For a large proportion of those companies, this aspiration will remain forever elusive, even when they never attempt to sell beyond their national borders. While SMEs enter foreign markets with a clear growth objective, experience shows that internationalization does not always contribute positively to overall firm growth. Managing growth is in itself a difficult challenge for small firms. Managing growth through foreign sales becomes even more difficult due to the increased complexity, uncertainty and risks associated with international markets.

    The vast majority of internationally successful companies are companies that took a carefully planned and sequential approach to internationalization. Such an approach is particularly important for SMEs with scarce resources and limited capabilities. Failure to design a sound internationalization strategy could result in missed opportunities, waste of resources, and even put the growth and survival of the SME in jeopardy.

    Internationalization is a learning process that should not be rushed and must always be planned. It is only through the slow process of accumulating experience, knowledge and confidence in carefully selected foreign markets that SMEs develop the necessary capabilities to operate successfully in international markets.

    When it comes to operationalize the internationalization strategy SMEs should understand the export process, but this is not enough. SMEs should understand the capability development implications and of their strategic decisions. Most failures occur due to overconfidence and failure to develop and implement the necessary internal processes to match the ambitions of their strategies. Many SMEs fail to compete in international markets because they cannot meet quality standards, deliver on time, or produce the right volumes at an acceptable price. Other companies fail to connect with buyers, suppliers, and resource providers, and by doing this they become isolated and uncompetitive.

    Managing the internationalization process is as important as identifying clients or determining the type of product or service the company takes to the market. An SME that strategically manages its internationalization process is a company that adapt to market fluctuations, and can change in search of new opportunities.

    The CSBI programme addresses all the aforementioned issues, and provides participants the necessary tools and methodologies to support enterprises at all stages in their internationalization path.

    How is the programme structured?

    CSBI uses a blended learning approach that combines face-to-face and on-line workshops, company visits, and supervised consultancy assignments to ensure participants are equipped with the necessary concepts, tools, and methodologies to assists SMEs seeking to internationalize their business.

    The programme structure consists of three thematic pillars, face-to-face workshops, on-line modules and a supervised field assignment where participants assist local SMEs.

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    Pillar 1: A Strategic View of Internationalization
    This pillar allows participants to perform a strategic analysis of business internationalization decisions and the operational implications of those decisions. The pillar covers business competitiveness, export strategy design, identification of target markets, and the creation of value propositions.

    Pillar 2: Developing Internationalization Capabilities
    This pillar addresses key internationalization capabilities that SMEs need to develop. Participants will deepen their understanding of export processes and procedures, operations management for exports, export packaging, labelling and marking, international logistics and distribution, marketing for exports, intercultural negotiations, and other important activities that exporting businesses should master.

    Pillar 3: Managing the Internationalization Process
    This pillar will address the role of the manager and the importance of setting-up appropriate organizational structures to support business internationalization. Participants will acquire the tools and conceptual frameworks to conduct in-depth assessments of internationalizing enterprises and to design improvement plans to achieve export success. Participants will also understand how to develop training, consulting, and coaching skills to better address the needs of the business and the manager running it.

    Field Assignment
    Under the supervision and coaching of ITC experts, participants will undertake a practical field assignment to put their newly acquired knowledge and skills to practice. Each participant will work with a local SME, for which he/she will conduct a full assessment of the company, including of the company’s export strategy and the processes put in place to support internationalization. The participant will also identify areas of weakness and propose an improvement plan.

    In addition to the core learning modules, the programme offers the possibility of adding focused technical workshops on export packaging, export quality management, operations improvement, supply chain management, financial management, brand development, and e-commerce.

    Finally, ITC can adapt the content to address the specificities of international transactions in priority sectors, as identified by the local counterpart.

    How do you benefit from the programme?

    Upon completion of the programme, TISI will be able to extend the reach and impact of their development interventions by using the certified experts capable of providing quality support services to exporting companies. ITC will provide advice to TISIs on the development of work-plans for the deployment of these resources.

    Management professionals participating in the programme will acquire knowledge, tools and methodologies to help SMEs achieve their business objectives, improve their organizational performance, and conquer international markets.

    SMEs will receive free of charge technical assistance to improve their export strategies delivered by participants seeking certification. They will also have the possibility to participate in the training workshops and improve their knowledge of business internationalization.

    Who can participate?

    The programme targets technical staff and affiliated consultants of partner institutions. Participants should have experience providing managerial advice and support to enterprises, particularly to SMEs. The programme is open to management professionals with an interest in business internationalization, irrespective of their area of specialization (e.g. accountants, quality specialists, supply chain managers, marketing specialists, etc.). Participants should be either working for or have an affiliation with the local partner institution, and should commit to support the partner institution in assisting SMEs upon completion of the programme.

    SMEs participating in the field assignment can nominate one employee to attend the training programme. Attendance of SME representatives is voluntary and they will not be subject to any of the requirements that apply to advisors seeking certification. Participants nominated by the SME will receive an attendance certificate.

    What is the role of partner institutions?

    Local TISIs collaborating with ITC play a fundamental role in rolling out and ensuring the sustainability of the programme. Partner institutions take care of all local logistical arrangements, including the identification and selection of suitable trainees and enterprises to participate in the programme. This work is done in close collaboration with ITC and following guidelines specially designed for the programme. The minimum number of trainees to launch a CSBI implementation in a country is 15, and the maximum number is 30.

    Local TISIs will be expected to:

    1. Identify and recruit local SMEs
    2. Identify and recruit participants
    3. Support with the local logistics (e.g. venue, coffee breaks and lunches, company visits, etc.)
    4. Prepare a booklet describing the export process for the country
    5. Develop a plan to deploy newly trained professionals to assist local SMEs.

    What is the duration of the programme?

    The programme has a standard duration of four months, but the duration of each specific implementation would vary depending on time availability of the different stakeholders.
    A standard programme accommodates up to 30 participants, includes three three-day face-to-face workshops, three on-line learning modules, one supervised field assignment of approximately four weeks duration, and a certification ceremony.

    For more information, please write to us at csbi@intracen.org 







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    For more information, please contact emd[at]intracen.org