Integrated Export Services for Sustainable Support of SMEs

Project completed
Woman with honey jar
82 farming businesses and wood furniture manufacturers received training in marketing and management. © SECO

The project aims to strengthen the competitiveness and export capacities of small and medium-sized enterprises’ (SMEs), specifically in the wood and furniture industry as well as in the organic agriculture sector, by improving their export potential and their market diversification, thereby reducing economic disparities and contributing to the development of two of Romania's poorest regions. Currently, Romania has a low number of exporting SMEs and a limited number of innovative companies being involved in export. The project is full in line with Romania’s National Export Strategy (2014-2020) owing to Romania’s competitive advantages such as technical skills, good farmland, availability of raw materials and external demand. 

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Romania
Promoting economic growth and improving working conditions
Export promotion for SMEs
17.06.2015 - 07.09.2019
CHF 2'500'000

Note: the texts under all the headings, with the exception of 'Results achieved', describe the situation before the start of the project.

Background

One of the main weaknesses of the Romanian economy is the low number of exporting SMEs and a limited number of innovative companies involved in export. SMEs contribution to the overall export of Romania is modest. Despite the good endowment with factors of production, few companies are able to enter the international markets. Sufficient business skills and managerial abilities are often lacking despite efforts made to develop business support services.
Barriers to the internationalization of SMEs include for example insufficient financial means; the lack of information on new export markets, foreign business practices and legislation; or an adequate access to distribution channels and networks. Further, many SMEs face difficulties in adapting their products to the tastes and preferences of foreign markets, as well as in identifying new business contacts and partners abroad.

Objectives

The goals of this project are to increase the export capacity of Romanian SMEs, especially in wooden furniture and organic agriculture, through trainings and individualized coaching; to improve their competitiveness and to enter easier international markets for wooden furniture products and organic farming.

Target groups

The beneficiaries include SMEs, entrepreneurs, members of the local and central public administration, professional associations, industry associations, chambers of commerce, representatives of financial institutions and consultancy companies, as well as media representatives. The direct beneficiaries of the project are at least 80 SMEs, which are situated in the structurally weak Muntenia South or Northeast region of Romania and which are active in organic agriculture or wood/furniture production. These SMEs are either already exporting, but with limited success, or they are aspiring and potential exporters, which the Romanian National Export Strategy outlines as important.

Activities

 

  • Selection of an experienced Project Implementation Organisation
  • Creation of two regional Export Business Centres (EBC) in less developed regions of Romania in order to provide capacity building and personalized support to SMEs to reach export readiness and access to foreign markets (individual business strategies, marketing plans support);
  • Information on international standards, certification procedures and quality requirements;
  • Assimilation of best practices for export promotion (international and national);
  • Creation of export oriented Romanian brands, trademarks and eco-labels, including geographical indications for specific products;
  • Export promotion by participating in international events/trade fairs (in selected markets);
  • Besides other existing Romanian export markets such as the EU and Russia, additional Export Promotion Activities are foreseen, e.g. in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as a regional hub.

 

Results

Achieved results:  

  • Two Export Business Centers in Bacau and Ploiesti are operational.
  • 82 SMEs in the fields of organic agriculture and wood furniture production were selected and participated in training modules.
  • Various workshops were organized, networks promoted and certification standards introduced.
  • Through the participation of selected SMEs in two international fairs, the export skills could be broadened and networks established.


Expected results:  

  • Two Export Business Centers in Bacau and Ploiesti are operational; needs assessment studies completed (wooden furniture and organic sector).
  • Four stakeholder meetings and two project workshops are held; online services are available.
  • Capacity building for SMEs is undertaken by offering trainings / coaching to enhance their knowledge in management, design, marketing and quality control.
  • Development of organics sector through outreach / public relations campaigns in rural areas, especially to women entrepreneurs;
  • SMEs exhibit their products at international fairs and participate in match-making events.
  • Increased exports and trade diversification of SMEs to new markets. Competitiveness of SME’s improved and jobs could be maintained, or even increased.


Directorate/federal office responsible SECO
Credit area Swiss Contribution to the enlarged EU
Project partners Contract partner
  • Romanian Ministry of Public Finance and Romanian Ministry of Energy, Small and Medium Enterprises and Business Environment

Implementing partner
Directory for Export Development, Ministry of Economy

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF   2'500'000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF   260'147
Project phases

Phase 10 17.06.2015 - 07.09.2019   (Completed)