Export Navigator clients Alex Stuart and Michael McManus with their revolutionary fire suppression system.

South Vancouver Island businesses achieve international success with Export Navigator

How small businesses are finding new customers in changing times

As a year of uncertainty continues, it has become more critical than ever for small businesses to find creative ways to succeed, and many are turning to Export Navigator for advice and support. Operating across B.C., the free Export Navigator Program has been helping businesses grow since 2016 — now, it’s stepping in to help businesses like Guardian Fire Shield from Ladysmith to innovate and adapt.

Export Navigator is a free program that connects business owners with a local export advisor who can help them find new customers beyond B.C. From growth planning to information about exporting, business owners across the province have applied free advisor support to expand with confidence.

Throughout the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, the advisors at Export Navigator have been helping businesses find ways to pivot and succeed in the face of new challenges — such as taking advantage of e-commerce platforms and learning how to access government funding resources. With more businesses turning to the program, its success stories now span a range of industries and countries.

Honorable Minister Mungall, responsible for the Ministry of Jobs, Economic Development and Competitiveness, believes it’s the local aspect of Export Navigator that has been fundamental to its success in helping small businesses:

“As a resident of a rural community, I see so many innovative people creating products and services that deserve wider distribution. Every business and every community is different, and I think that’s why Export Navigator’s regional approach has been so valuable.”

Cowichan-based export advisor Fabrizio Alberico has been working with businesses across the south of Vancouver Island to help them export. One of Fab’s success stories is Guardian Fire Shield, a domestic fire suppression system. Ladysmith-based entrepreneur James Stuart knew his product had the potential to increase fire safety outside of Canada but required additional knowledge on what resources were available to his business. With Fab’s expert guidance, James Stuart is expanding talks with international distributors in the UK, Mexico, & the Philippines and exploring new government funding possibilities.

“Our focus for 2020 is to continue discussions with Distributor interests in the United States, UK, Mexico, and the Philippines to advance Guardian Fire Shield™ as a Canadian technology. There is comfort in knowing that we can call on Fab for guidance, support with funding applications and referrals to assist us with growing internationally.”

From solo startups with a small customer base to larger corporations that already export to some select markets, Export Navigator is available to businesses of all sizes based in Vancouver Island and B.C. outside of Greater Victoria and Greater Vancouver.

To continue helping businesses in Vancouver Island, the free program is accepting online applications. To support underrepresented groups, businesses owned by Indigenous Peoples, women, and youth can expect specialized support and are encouraged to apply online.

Export Navigator gratefully acknowledges that we live, work, and play on the traditional territories of the Indigenous Peoples of British Columbia.

Small Business

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