UK: SME/Professional Counsel - Emerging Markets - Beware the cultural divide.

UK: SME/Professional Counsel - Emerging Markets - Beware the cultural divide. - Do your research before venturing into Central and Eastern Europe.

by Christopher Bennett, a director of Cornwallis Associates Limited0171 222 2441.
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Do your research before venturing into Central and Eastern Europe.

Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union is an emerging market with considerable potential. Yet, it is also a market that you should approach with caution, simply because misunderstandings between partners can so easily arise. Many years of state dominance has given rise to a very different approach to business from that of the West. Research is invaluable. At the outset, speak to the:

- DTI Export Services

- London Chamber of Commerce

- Eastern European Trade Council

- Trade counsellors in the embassies of the countries you are aiming for.

Pick the brains of others working in the region. The City Emerging Markets Club (CEMaC) holds monthly meetings, which you can attend at little cost.

(Call chairman Brian Emmott on 0171 256 2337.)

If you work in particular areas of business and are targeting particular countries, you may be able to apply for a grant towards a feasibility study from the UK Government Know How Fund or the European Union TACIS or PHARE funds. There are many other funds but the application processes are rigorous and time-consuming. In most cases, you will need to have identified a partner in the country with which you propose to do business.

The DTI and London Chamber of Commerce arrange subsidised Outward Missions.

They provide an opportunity to visit the country and meet local business people wishing to undertake business with UK partners.

The economies of each country are managed very differently with differing effects on the stability of each local currency. Do not assume that practices in Ukraine are the same as in Russia. Finally, bear in mind that projects will take far longer than you think. Allow for at least five times what you might expect. So budget 'long and thin'.

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