In just a few months since its launch, COBCOE Connects has linked around a dozen businesses across Europe.
“We have quite a few interesting examples of businesses connecting,” says Anne-Marie Martin, CEO at the Council of British Chambers of Commerce in Europe (COBCOE), the organisation behind the match-making platform designed to become a place where anyone can do business anywhere in the world, from SMEs to large businesses.
“A Baltic firm has been connected with a cosmetics company that was recommended by the British Chamber of Commerce for Italy, and a Belgian company ran into some issues with a Chinese packaging supplier just as a Bulgarian company posted an opportunity for quality packaging. The two companies were promptly linked by their moderators,” Mrs Martin adds.
The moderators’ role is critical on this online platform: they facilitate relationships between members and help them to develop business opportunities. They also verify the data provided by users of the platform.
“Trust is something highly valued when doing business; you only do business and close deals with agents (suppliers, customers, distributors, importers, etc.) you trust. But, when you meet these agents via the digital world, it can be hard to trust them completely. The platform is run under the premise of ‘creating business in a trusted environment’ as every company joining the platform is evaluated by their local moderator when they join through a chamber of commerce, or by the dedicated COBCOE Connects team when they do not belong to any chamber of commerce,” Mrs Martin tells Emerging Europe.
COBCOE believes that the platform does not have to be seen as a substitute for other strategies to export and expand your business, but as a complementary, cheaper and less time-consuming tool with which you can begin to open your business to new markets and clients.
“Reaching beyond more traditional ways to export and do business abroad, UK companies, members of chambers of commerce across Europe and beyond as well as any business not belonging to a chamber of commerce can find in COBCOE Connects a new tool for business development. It has never been so easy to start exporting and finding customers or suppliers based abroad,” Mrs Martin says.
COBCOE Connects includes ten networks with over 2500 members and keeps growing. These networks are chambers and associations in three emerging Europe countries: Lithuania, Slovenia and Bulgaria, as well as in Finland, Belgium, Italy and France, plus two regional UK chambers representing the Thames Valley and Hertfordshire, and COBCOE itself.