TradeBuilders launches virtual trade mission to India

India Abroad News Service
April 21, 2001
By Aziz Haniffa

Link to original article

Tradebuilders Inc., a Washington-based company, has launched the world's first virtual trade mission between the US and India.

The virtual trade mission is aimed at helping American firms build valuable relations with leading software companies in India, especially those in Bangalore. The company said the Web-based virtual trade mission would enable companies to build relations through online meetings and a videoconference. It said that already more than 20 firms in India and an equal number in the US have registered for the virtual trade mission.

Tradebuilders officials said their proprietary process includes expert business facilitation and online coaching. They said American companies could use the virtual trade mission to build business relations with Indian software developers and identify partners for selling, outsourcing, joint venturing and investment.

Virginia Littlejohn, chairman and CEO of Tradebuilders, said: "Global markets are expanding as trade barriers come down, trade agreements multiply and e-commerce explodes. But barriers still exist -- a lack of trade knowledge and experience, the high cost of traditional trade missions, and archaic supply chains and infrastructure."

Littlejohn said Tradebuilders helps companies go global through an Internet portal that cuts costs, reduces risks, simplifies trade, increases growth opportunities, offers technical assistance, develops trade capability, improves the supply chain process and creates access to finance and investment.

Elizabeth Vazquez, president of Tradebuilders, pointed out "traditional trade missions focus primarily on large companies offering products. They are time consuming and expensive -- costing anywhere from $2,500 to $15,000 -- and require a high level of trade expertise."

"But virtual trade missions," Vazquez said, "are open to companies of any sizes offering products or services, require much less time and expense -- typically $100 to $1,000,and assist companies with developing their trade expertise."

Officials at Tradebuilders said the company was working on this pilot virtual trade mission between India and the US in coordination with the Electronics and Computer Software Promotion Council (ESC), part of the Indian Government's ministry of information technology, India's largest B2B exchange, indiamarkets.com, the Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Karnataka and the Washington-based Cvent.com.

In 1998, the founders of Tradebuilders conducted the world's first virtual trade mission involving 56 companies in Canada, Malaysia and Singapore, which resulted in 16 business agreements. Last year, Tradebuilders conducted a virtual trade mission between Canada and the US that involved 44 companies and resulted in 22 business agreements.

In an interview with IANS, Vazquez said, "It's like a sophisticated chat-room, but it's facilitated. We are in the background looking for business-matching opportunities."

Vazquez is an alumnus of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University where she did her masters, majoring in development economics and international conflict resolution.

She said more than 20 companies from India that had already registered and they were "are extremely impressive." Most of the companies who had registered were software developers with 200 to 400 employees, Vazquez said.

She said the virtual trade mission would give "the local people not only to network with each other but also with the Indian participants -- put a face on the people they've been networking with in cyber-space."

"All the participants have very personalized access codes where they can go into the networking space when it's convenient for them a few times a week," said Vazquez.

The advisory board of Tradebuilders includes trade experts from governments, corporations, associations, small and medium enterprises, and alliance partners, as well as experts in target industries and regions.

India Abroad News Service

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