Press Releases

SME Passport: The business community joins forces to launch Quebec businesses onto international markets

Montreal, 8 May 2012 -

Today the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal and Québec International launched SME Passport, accompanied by their partners National Bank, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and the Ministère du Développement économique, de l’Innovation et de l’Exportation and its Export-Québec unit. This new structured, comprehensive training and support program for businesses with the potential to break into foreign markets will be headed up by the Board of Trade’s team of international trade experts, the World Trade Centre Montréal, and the team from Québec International.

“Our economic vitality depends in large part on the ability of local businesses to penetrate foreign markets,” said Michel Leblanc, President and CEO of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal. “But data shows that Quebec exports are well below their potential. In response to this challenge, the Board of Trade and Québec International have put in place SME Passport. This program will provide Quebec small businesses that show the strongest export potential with the tools they need and will support them at every stage of their international business development efforts.”

Businesses will be encouraged to apply to qualify for the SME Passport program, which is worth $25,000 in services and visibility. Each year, 20 businesses will be chosen and will receive personalized support, including an expert diagnosis and guidance in developing an export action plan. The managers of these small businesses will also be invited to take part in personalized coaching sessions and training workshops on international trade. The small businesses selected will also take part in networking activities and a trade mission to a targeted foreign territory.

“National Bank was founded by entrepreneurs over 150 years ago,” said Louis Vachon, the bank’s President and CEO. “It has contributed to the creation, development and continuity of thousands of businesses, so it is considered one of the architects of Quebec Inc. Every year we help many customers break into international markets. So it is only natural for us to be part of SME Passport and to take our efforts in this direction even further.”

"One of the sources driving our economy's growth is Quebec companies that are strong, competitive, and well-positioned globally," pointed out Normand Provost, Executive Vice-President, Equity, of the Caisse de depot et placement du Québec. "The Caisse is a leading investor in Quebec and supports successful companies in their expansion projects, both here and internationally. In this sense, it came as the most natural choice for us to participate in the SME Passport program, which provides customized support to entrepreneurs intent on expanding internationally."

Businesses interested in applying for SME Passport should visit and submit their application by June 15, 2012. Applications will be studied by a jury guided by the following criteria: the competitive advantage of the business and its products or services; its capacity and financial resources; the commitment of the management team; the stage of international development; and annual sales between $1.5 million and $25 million.

“For our businesses to be successful on foreign markets they need specific knowledge and particular management skills,” said Carl Viel, President and CEO of Québec International. “SME Passport will give businesses with the potential to break into foreign markets the chance to hone their performance through personalized support. We want program participants to be completely prepared to establish their presence on foreign markets. In the long term, SME Passport will help increase the number of Quebec businesses that are active and performing well on the international scene.”

About the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal
The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montréal is made up of some 7,000 members. Its mission is to represent the interests of the business community of Greater Montréal and to provide individuals, merchants, and local businesses of all sizes with a variety of specialized services to help them achieve their full potential in terms of innovation, productivity, and competitiveness. The Board of Trade is Québec's leading private economic development organization.

About Québec International
Québec International contributes to regional economic development and promotes
Québec  City's international standing. As the region's pre-eminent regional economic development agency, Québec International fosters business growth, supports key economic clusters and attracts talent and investment.

Geneviève Jutras
Advisor, Communications
Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal
Tel.: 514 871-4000, ext. 4042
Twitter: @chambremontreal
Follow the discussion: #ccmmqcca

Isabelle Gilbert
Director – Communications and Public Affairs
Québec International
Tel.: 418 681-9700, ext. 254