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Aussie businesses charging ahead with global expansion
Thu, 1st Sep 2022
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Australian businesses have ambitious plans for international expansion, as new data from global fintech Airwallex reveals more than two thirds of small-to-medium Aussie businesses (69%) plan to be operating outside Australia by 2027.

Airwallex's inaugural Australian Business Growth Index found a third of SMEs surveyed (34%) currently have operations overseas, but this is projected to more than double in the next five years.

The independent research, which surveyed more than 200 Australian small-to-medium enterprises, found that businesses already operating in international markets are experiencing commercial success. Of these businesses, two in five surveyed (42%) reported being profitable and more than half are breaking even (52%).

"Aussie businesses are bolstering their position to weather the current economic challenges," says Sam Kothari, head of growth for ANZ at Airwallex.

"International expansion is now being used as a strategy to remain resilient and viable by tapping into new markets and widening the pool of potential customers."

Moving overseas has unlocked new customer segments for SMEs and broadened their overall market share, with 80% saying the volume of new customers they've gained from moving into new markets has been significant.

The research also found that despite sustained economic hardship, including rising inflation and disrupted global supply chains, 96 per cent of SMEs who are already operating overseas, and 99% of those planning to do so in the next twelve months, recorded growth last year.

"Australians are innovators, and there is growing global demand for the products and services they provide," says Kothari.

"We have seen this firsthand; Airwallex is the chosen partner to many Australian businesses looking to alleviate the global roadblocks associated with setting up shop in international markets, including opening accounts overseas, high FX fees and managing employee expenses.

"We see ourselves playing a central role in opening the door for Australian businesses to access borderless opportunities all around the world."

For SMEs trading overseas, the region where they have seen the biggest growth in sales and revenue was Southeast Asia. Almost two in five respondents (39%) said this market had been their biggest generator of revenue outside of Australia in the past year, closely followed by the U.S. (29%).

These markets were echoed in terms of where the most beneficial prospects lie, with a quarter (26%) of SMEs operating or planning to operate overseas identifying Southeast Asia as the most lucrative in the year ahead.

The U.S. followed closely behind Southeast Asia, with 25% of businesses with an international footprint or ambition naming the States out as the next most attractive market in the near future, surpassing China (18%) and EMEA/UK (15%).