Become a Successful T&T Exporter | Local company

The currency crisis in Trinidad and Tobago has discouraged many aspiring and existing entrepreneurs in the country from doing whatever they planned, but some local businesses have gone beyond existing limits by building strong export companies and have become essential sources of foreign exchange for T&T. .

Recently at a T&T Chamber of Commerce and Industry webinar titled “Driving Export-Led Growth, How to get it Done” sponsored by the Export-Import Bank of T&T (EXIMBANK), John Hadad, Shaun Rampersad and Kameel Khan shared how it is possible to build a successful T&T export business that generates forex. Their key message to the audience was that there are great opportunities in Trinidad and Tobago, but you have to be execution driven to achieve your goals.

Execute despite fear and mistakes

Kameel Khan, co-founder of Kamri Glass, which is the first tempered glass maker at T&T, said: “… getting your hands dirty, getting your team together and getting moving is the only way to break this tide. Khan started his business with $ 600. He started out by importing and selling until he realized he had to start exporting to finance his foreign exchange needs. On a religious trip, he spoke to the only person who communicated in English, and the opportunity of making tempered glass presented itself. It now exports to four different countries and is currently negotiating to open more doors to more markets.

Ramps Logistics CEO Shaun Rampersad has helped Ramps grow from 20 employees in 2011 to 700 today. Rampersad felt that many people have the wrong idea when entering the export market, believing the experience to be seamless.

“We can’t just be distributors… you might be the best-known brand in Trinidad, but you aren’t necessarily a well-known brand in the grand scheme of things. I can assure everyone… that you are going to make mistakes. Not everything will turn out the way you expected, but I see a lot of people giving up because they are having problems, ”said Rampersad.

However, he noted that learning happens through trial and error and that there were many nights he stayed awake with his team trying to solve problems. “Sometimes we can’t just sit down and think about the best way to do things,” he said. “You just have to go do that damn thing.”

Panelist John Hadad, co-CEO of HADCO Group, agreed with Rampersad and Khan. Hadad said the key to overcoming runtime procrastination is having a mind that won’t give up.

He said with emotion, “When I heard Shaun and Kameel speak, my pores swelled because there’s something coming out that just says, ‘We’re doing it in spite of’ and… you can sum it up in one. word. This is called resilience.

Hadad, who created the HADCO group with his brothers with very little capital, explained that they had to review the structure and composition of their company in 2015. At that time, the group was 23 years old and it included activities import, distribution and retail. However, the HADCO group only covered 1% of its foreign exchange needs.

Today, after recreating a solid financial structure in the company, launching and acquiring export brands and leveraging its existing partnerships and distribution networks, Hadad noted that the group now achieves 20% of its foreign exchange needs.

EXIMBANK CEO Navin Dookeran acknowledged that the companies on the panel all had a “comparative advantage in execution”.

He added, “You are able to perform and it is a skill. I remember when I was back in school, the Lok Jack School of Business. We were trying to teach it, but it’s very difficult to teach.

Dookeran said getting an entire organization to adopt an execution mindset is critically important in determining success.

Learn the mechanics of exporting

T&T Chamber CEO Gabriel Faria also contributed to the discussion, indicating that many people are concerned about the mechanics of exports. While he recognizes that there are some challenges to overcome, he believes these are strategies that could be learned.

Faria said, “If you don’t have a vision — a passion — and if you don’t have a supporting infrastructure like EXIMBANK that will support your vision,” then at the end of the day a business can know the mechanics, but she would not maximize her Achievements.

He congratulated the government and the Minister of Finance for the work accomplished through EXIMBANK. Hadad and Rampersad also praised the Bank team for helping their businesses obtain much needed foreign exchange. Rampersad also indicated that EXIMBANK played a key role in financing the construction of the Ramps 3PL warehouse in Guyana.

Commenting on EXIMBANK’s role in the country, Dookeran commended the panelists for the hard work they are doing; noting in particular “I want people to realize that EXIMBANK is open to small businesses.”

He said that companies can access forex even if they are not yet exporting. Once they have a viable plan, EXIMBANK can provide foreign exchange for up to a year. “After the year, we have to see that you made an export sale and brought US dollars back into the country,” he said.

The CEO of EXIMBANK indicated that the bank is able to help businesses in the early stages through its website. A downloadable export plan template is available, which helps aspiring exporters think systematically about their journey process. He explained that the bank’s export program is thriving and noted, “There is a global economic recovery and exports are increasing. “