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Thursday, April 28, 2011

What's the best way to reach US businesses with interest in Cape Verde projects?

It would actually make little sense to try to reach potential US small business investors directly. The US small business universe is too large and too diverse. There is no message that can be successfully targeted at such a incongruous group.

Instead, there are four channels through which targeted outreach is likely to be successful:

  1. US Conferences and Expositions put on by the small business associations of the target audience. For example, to reach potential manufacturer to invest in a Cape Verde based project whose aim is to import that product into the US, one could participate in a conference sponsored by the association corresponding to the product - if the project were growing and canning corn for export, one of the corresponding associations might be the American Corn Growers Association. This type of networking opportunity is one of the primary methods used to bring business parties together in the US.
  2. The US Chambers of Commerce is the world's largest business federation representing 3 million US small businesses of all sizes, sectors and regions of the US. They provide resources to identify and reach potential candidates for new opportunities.
  3. The financial advisors who serve small businesses. Almost every small business owner employs the services of an advisor to assist with their personal financial plans. This goes beyond the use of accountants who are employed in the services of the business itself. These financial advisors develop close personal relationships with the business owners. Being able to network among financial advisors can lead to opportunities to bring parties together. The advisor may be an important influencer in the process.
  4. Cape Verde sponsored Conferences. The Cape Verde government can sponsor a conference or exposition in the United states and invite the target US investor audience to attend. If this type of  conference is to be successful, the right location would first have to be chosen. The location selected would depend on whether the conference was to attract investors only from the local region or a nationwide audience. Holding a conference in any recognized major US city such as Boston, Chicago, New York, DC and so on, would allow either a focus on the regional audience or on a nationwide audience. The larger the intended audience, the more costly would be the exercise of putting on the conference. An appropriate co-sponsor such as a chamber of commerce or a business association in the targeted industries would also ensure a full capacity event. Since the agenda would be entirely geared to investment opportunities in Cape Verde, it is likely that a substantial portion of the cost of the event would fall on the Cape Verde government sponsor. For this reason, it is probably more cost effective to put on a "road-show", or series of smaller, more intimate events across the US but at lower cost conference centers. These smaller events are extremely popular among regional chapters of various industry associations and are less risky than a once-a-year event which may be hit and miss.

If the Cape Verde government seeks to attract US investments into Cape Verde, then it must target the right small business segment and make proactive outreach efforts to reach, inform and generate interest from potential candidates for any project. US investors have the luxury, or some would say the curse, of an endless number of potential opportunities to explore. If proactive outreach is not undertaken, these investors will simply not hear of the Cape Verdean opportunities. Networking among the financiers may also lead to immediate opportunities to make connections with wealthy small business owners and investors.

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