Export Navigator clients Bottle None are based out of Vernon and provide personal care with minimal waste

Okanagan 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 Bottle None from Vernon 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.”

Vernon-based export advisor Ken MacLeod has been working with businesses across the North Okanagan to help them export. One of Ken’s success stories is Bottle None, an environmentally-friendly company that produces low-waste shampoo and bathroom products in Vernon. Bottle None founders Jaye and Ali Siegmueller wanted to make a positive impact overseas by exporting, but it can be a daunting prospect if you don’t know where to start. Their advisor Ken was able to point Jaye and Ali towards vital contacts and resources to help them grow their business. With Ken’s guidance, Bottle None has successfully expanded into new markets.

“Ken has been pointing us in the right direction. We recently heard from a company in China that wants to promote our products. It helps to have someone to ask that knows how to navigate foreign markets where we don’t speak the language. Ken sends me support and information, such as grants, all the time. Having someone on our side with support is so helpful.”

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 in the North Okanagan and across B.C.

To continue helping businesses in the Okanagan Region, 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 also encouraged to apply.

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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