Albert Einstein once wisely remarked: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” In today’s dynamic global business landscape, this wisdom holds truer than ever. Small and medium-sized exporters (SMEs) not only need knowledge but also imagination to not just survive but thrive. Picture a world where SMEs leverage technology and embrace continuous learning to enhance export readiness, promote sustainability, and drive robust growth. This is the vision behind VIVA project’s “Export Skills Basecamp,” a collaborative effort involving Laurea University of Applied Sciences, industry experts, and forward-thinking exporting companies.
In this article, we explore the ”Export Skills Basecamp” and draw inspiration from Einstein’s wisdom: ”In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.” This mantra resonates with exporting SMEs facing dynamic markets, global shifts, and events like the COVID-19 pandemic. The basecamp is not merely a platform; it is a strategic response, enabling businesses to adapt, compete, and thrive while promoting continuous learning and sustainable growth.
VIVA’s Einstein to Unveil International Trade’s Core
Within this platform, SMEs receive guidance from VIVA’s virtual Einstein character, who imparts essential lessons. His core message, originating from VIVA project’s esteemed long-term mentor, should remain vivid in the minds of companies engaged in international trade. It underlines the critical importance of securing full invoice amounts quickly and securely:
“The main target of the company’s export is to get the full invoice amount as fast and secured as possible to the account of the company.”
Furthermore, VIVA’s Einstein imparts crucial knowledge, covering topics such as recognising credit and country-specific risks, establishing comprehensive risk management strategies, emphasising the importance of “Know Your Customer” (KYC) procedures, and advocating for sustainability through practices like the circular economy, resilience, and adherence to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles. These invaluable teachings equip SMEs with the wisdom and strategic acumen needed to thrive in the realm of international trade.
Beyond Conventional Export Training – No More PowerPoints
The ”Export Skills Basecamp” has redefined how SMEs approach learning in the realm of international trade. Unlike conventional export training that often relies on standardised training modules and static PowerPoint presentations, this innovative platform offers a dynamic and interactive learning experience. It also places SMEs at the helm of their continuous learning journey, fostering not just knowledge acquisition but also a genuine enthusiasm for honing export skills and promoting sustainable growth.
One of the key differentiators of this platform is its emphasis on self-directed learning. SMEs are not confined to a predetermined curriculum; instead, they are encouraged to explore knowledge from a multitude of sources, both within and outside the platform. This approach empowers SMEs to acquire insights, apply them in real-world scenarios, and customise their learning journey to align with their unique requirements and objectives.
The ”Export Skills Basecamp” is revolutionizing SME learning to enhance competitiveness and adaptability in today’s dynamic market through self-directed micro-learning opportunities. Accessible in English at www.vivaboost.fi, this innovative platform distills expert webinars into bite-sized modules, covering a comprehensive range of vital topics in two categories:
• Green Transition
• Carbon Neutrality
• ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance)
• Circular Economy
• Company Resilience
Business Proficiency Essentials:
• Risk-taking Policy
• Know Your Customer (KYC)
• International Trade Agreement
• Pre-Export Homework
• Continuous Learning.
In this platform, SMEs can choose from a variety of learning methods to enhance their learning experience. They can, for example, watch videos, listen to podcasts, engage in quizzes, or enjoy gamified activities like mini-games and challenges. Those who prefer reading can explore articles and reference materials to deepen their understanding.
But that is not all. The “Export Skills Basecamp” goes beyond traditional learning methods. It features virtual characters that guide and mentor SMEs, improving the overall learning experience. VIVA’s Einstein character shares valuable insights into export trade, while expert characters provide knowledge on various export topics. For networking and interactive learning, VIVA personas gather in a virtual café.
Based on feedback from businesses, this platform is particularly well-suited for onboarding new employees who are entering the world of exports and for training sales teams on export-related matters. This mix of learning methods and virtual characters creates an engaging environment that caters to the diverse needs of SMEs.
Strategic Learning – Why it’s Crucial for Exporters
Strategic learning design is not just theory; it is a practical process actively used in VIVA’s experiments. It customises education to meet company and learner needs through careful planning, development, and alignment with strategic goals, fostering knowledge and skills for long-term success.
For exporting SMEs, strategic learning design is of paramount importance for the following three reasons:
- Adaptation to dynamic markets: It allows SMEs to continually update their knowledge and skills, enabling them to adapt to shifting market dynamics, regulatory changes, and emerging trends.
- Competitive advantage: It helps SMEs create a competitive edge with a skilled workforce, offering better products and services, quick market response, and great customer experiences.
- Sustainability and growth: It promotes sustainability and responsible business. It helps SMEs meet customer expectations, regulations, and excel internationally.
Emerging Technologies in Action
To enhance export expertise, VIVA used virtual reality (VR) technology for immersive learning. This approach simplifies content creation even for non-technical users. However, it comes with challenges, discussed in our fresh article ”Navigating the Challenges and Benefits of Virtual Reality Learning in Exports” (Kuhmonen, Heiskanen & Heino 2023). Understanding and addressing these challenges is crucial for VR-based learning success.
Maximising the Impact
As the VIVA project wraps up, the “Export Skills Basecamp” platform offers numerous benefits to SME export companies, both in the short term and for their long-term growth and success:
• Enhanced Competence: Customised skill improvement.
• Flexibility: Self-paced learning balancing work and personal development.
• Cost-Effective Training: Efficient resource allocation.
• Motivated Workforce: Boosted employee engagement.
• Sustainability Focus: Meeting environmental expectations.
• Continuous Improvement: Fostering adaptability.
To Learn, Listen to the Wise
As we envision the future of exporting enterprises in 2023, we can almost hear Einstein whispering, “Strive not to be of success, but rather to be of value.” This mantra resonates deeply in a world, where embracing new technologies and continuously evolving is paramount. In such an environment, the importance of learning from those who have walked the path before us cannot be overstated.
Networking and mentorship play pivotal roles in this journey. Building a network of experienced individuals and seeking guidance from mentors who have navigated similar challenges can significantly accelerate an enterprise’s growth and success. These connections offer insights, lessons, and perspectives that textbooks and classrooms cannot provide.
The wisdom of the real Einstein and the practical teachings of VIVA’s Einstein come together to provide a powerful resource for enterprises, emphasising the importance of adaptability, financial acumen, and ethical sustainability. By embracing the knowledge and experiences of those who have traveled the road of innovation and change, SMEs can not only thrive in the global market but also contribute positively to a more sustainable and prosperous future.
Practice green export skills at www.vivaboost.fi:
Visit www.vivaboost.fi and start practising green export skills through the ”Export Skills Basecamp” from the VIVA project homepage.
The VIVA project aimed to enhance the resilience, competitiveness, and sustainability of international SMEs, timely given the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and changing geopolitical situations.
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Listen to VIVA’s podcasts (in Finnish):
”Vauhtia ja viisautta vientiin” -podcastsarja: