David Cameron has named new business ambassadors in what he said was a commitment to boosting the UK’s performance in international trade and attracting investment.
Those coming on board include Karen Blackett, CEO of the UK’s largest media agency MediaCom, who became the first woman to top the Powerlist100 of influential black Britons, and Severn Trent’s CEO Liv Garfield.
Also joining the prime minister’s team of business ambassadors will be Paul Kahn the boss of Airbus Group UK, Sage’s Stephen Kelly, notonthehighstreet’s Holly Tucker and Enterprise Nation’s Emma Jones. The latter may be a particularly welcome announcement for small businesses, with Jones’s focus on helping to promote the ambition of small firms.
Jones set up Enterprise Nation in 2005 as a network campaigning, supporting and promoting enterprise through the UK. In 2011, she was part of the team which created the StartUp Britain initiative – aimed at encouraging more people to start a business and in 2012 was awarded an MBE for services to enterprise.
She also featured in Business Advice’s Small Business Decision Makers 2016 – a list of the 30 people influencing future policy and enterprise promotion in the UK.
Cameron said: “It is excellent news that some of Britain’s best and brightest business minds will be working with us. Our new business ambassadors will bring a wealth of experience and expertise, helping us to unlock markets, grow our international trade and boost inward investment.”
The role of the business ambassadors will be to carry out meetings at the request of government, whether that be lobbying to remove barriers to market access or leading events for small businesses. They will also be required to go on overseas visits and lead missions in agreement with UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), brief UK ministers and ambassadors on business priorities as they arise, as well as meet overseas ministers.
More broadly, the team of seasoned business people will provide insight into how UKTI can serve businesses effectively, and will contribute to government-to-government dialogues with international markets.
Cameron said: “Showing the world that the UK is open for trade and investment is a key part of our plan to deliver economic security. Ambassadors of this calibre show we mean business.”
The business ambassadors network was established in 2008, aiming to help small and medium-sized enterprises, with the acknowledgement that they often face greater barriers to accessing global markets than larger companies.
Last month, Alibaba founder Jack Ma was appointed by the prime minister to join his Business Advisory Group, to provide advice on business, particularly on boosting small firms’ exports.
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