Entrepreneurs

Multiplying the benefits of trade – one SME at a time

Our world survives, and thrives, on the back of international trade. The exports of a country often help put it on the map – whether food, vehicles or products – and since the outbreak of COVID-19, we’ve seen the impact when trade slows and we can’t get the things we need or love as fast as we’re used to. At Twill, we believe in the importance of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in this international trade and believe that all small businesses deserve the chance to access it and reap the benefits in order to help their business grow.

A big target – powered by sustainability

Being supercharged by Maersk, we are a close part of the company’s sustainable strategy and its ambitious targets. As a global facilitator and integrator of trade, Maersk is committed to ensuring its business practices are safe, responsible, and transparent and that they work systemically to reduce negative and enhance positive impacts on people, society, and environment. The strategy is guided by these principles and in accordance with the UN Global Compact on human rights, labour rights, environment, and anti-corruption, and contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Twill’s part in this strategy is to support in reducing the complexity of the industry and empowering small businesses to benefit from trade. By making trade simpler, more accessible, and more sustainable, we can help multiply these benefits. With this in mind, a goal has been set, we aim to connect 100,000 SMEs, including women-operated business, to international trade by 2025. It is a big target, but one we’re committed to fulfilling. SMEs often face barriers to trade via a lack of knowledge on how to trade and lack of trust inside the existing trading system. Women-owned businesses and women entrepreneurs, in particular, face barriers to taking their businesses global but hold promise in making trade work better for inclusive economic growth.

Our plan of action

So, how are we going to make this happen? Well, our plans are built around the one thing that makes us great – our Twillers! Their knowledge of logistics and years of experience have helped take us to over 159 countries around the world and we know they can help in upskilling, supporting and connecting SMEs and entrepreneurs. Through our initiatives, we want to create impact both on an individual level and at scale –  and we’re doing this in a number of ways. Our first approach is to provide entrepreneurs with the knowledge and expertise they need to prepare their business for global trade – via webinars, for example. Without this knowledge, SMEs can struggle to get the right costs for their cargo, build the right relationships or pick the right Incoterm. Supporting initiatives are crucial alongside this in the long term, to take SMEs one step closer to international trade, by showing them how to implement the knowledge they have acquired. Among the ways we intend to do this are 1-to-1 or 1-to-few coaching programmes and workshops from our Twillers! Lastly, there is our simple, intuitive platform, developed specifically to connect SMEs to global trade and to meet their specific needs – whether it’s ease, transparency or reliability.

How we’re making it happen already!

We aren’t waiting around to get started either, we have set about establishing some of these programmes and have already had SMEs seeing the benefits of our Twillers sharing their knowledge and expertise. For example, as part of our commitment to supporting women-owned businesses, we have partnered with SheTrades – a support initiative from the International Trade Centre, who have their own aim of connecting 3 million women to trade by 2021 – and have held webinars which were attended by over 400 entrepreneurs around the world! We have also collaborated with SheTrades through a pilot programme of coaching from our staff. Women entrepreneurs from Nigeria and Kenya were partnered with our Twillers who provided them with advice and guidance, not just on logistics but sales, e-commerce, HR and marketing too. The coaching took place over four weeks and 100% of the entrepreneurs who took part said it had helped them in preparing themselves to access international trade – whether that’s getting trade-ready, or scaling-up and improving their current operations or logistics capacity.

And there’s more to come…

We’re excited about reaching – and maybe even exceeding – our goal to support 100,000 SMEs by 2025 and we have lots initiatives planned – whether it’s more webinars or expanding our coaching programme to Asia and Latin America. International trade should be accessible to all – and at Twill we’re making it happen, one SME, one business, one customer at a time.