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Breaking Borders

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Breaking Borders

From Canada to China, Barriers Overshadow Growth for Expanding SMEs


5 min read
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What's inside?

Small and medium-sized businesses encounter abundant opportunities and daunting challenges overseas.

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Editorial Rating



  • Innovative


With improvements in technology in an increasingly global environment, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are quickly gaining ground outside their home turfs. But as this enlightening account from the Economist Intelligence Unit reveals, numerous challenges keep some SMEs from making the leap to foreign shores. Interviews with SME executives provide a unique perspective and set this report apart. getAbstract recommends it to entrepreneurs and SME owners considering expanding their businesses beyond their borders.


Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are global growth machines; they represent some 90% of all businesses and more than half of the world’s jobs. The Economist Intelligence Unit surveyed 480 SMEs, most of which book between $500,000 and $20 million in annual revenue. Though respondents operate across 20 diverse sectors, most are eager to access overseas markets (though 40% have yet to do so). SMEs in G7 nations tend to seek opportunities in developed markets, which offer “stability and predictability.” Meanwhile, SMEs that call Brazil, Russia, India, China or Mexico home are wont to expand...

About the Author

The Economist Intelligence Unit is an independent research and analysis organization.

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