On Wednesday November 14th at the University of Ulster, Major Events International (MEI) hosted a seminar on the opportunities for Northern Irish companies in the Major Sporting Events market. This seminar paid particular attention to the prospects and challenges of doing business in both Brazil and Qatar as both nations prepare for the demands of hosting World Cups and Olympics.

The event was highly successful with excellent presentations by Invest Northern Ireland, Major Events International (MEI) Unify Solutions and Nabas legal. The speakers illustrated the opportunities and overcoming the challenges of entering these markets, and how small and medium sized companies can succeed with prior planning and preparation, drawing on the full range of support services available.

Dennis Mills, the founder and CEO of MEI opened the event with an overview of not only the major events opportunities but also the related wider footprint which presents many opportunities for Northern Irish companies regardless of size and sector. MEI has been supporting business in new markets for over 6 years and has been present in Brazil for over two years. He concluded with some top tips to help companies succeed. The key messages were about preparation, an adequate continuous local presence and operating within a full thought-through plan supported by the right experts.

Vitoria Nabas is a London-based Brazilian Lawyer providing support to companies throughout the UK in entering new markets and Vitoria works very closely with MEI. She gave a summary of the options and issues when forming companies in Brazil and things which must be avoided at all costs if there are not to be serious negative consequences. However, Vitoria’s key message was that entering the Brazil market is complex mainly because it is unfamiliar. She reflected her own experience when she first felt established her business in the UK. She concluded by warning that the UK Bribery Act means that any offers of “fast-track” issues, such as forming a company and submission of tax returns, could have major consequences and must be avoided.

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The Panel (Left to Right): Dennis Mills, Claire Gadd, Vitoria Nabas, Richie Smith.

Claire Gadd, Invest Northern Ireland provided a summary of the opportunities in Qatar and how her organisation can support companies with training, mentoring, funding and in-country support. The key messages were centred around companies have the ambition to success and like previous speakers, emphasised the need for planning, commitment to the longer term and not expecting quick results. This approach and attitude will, if all the resources available are used, lead to success.

Richie Smith, Unify Solutions and MEI Associate who organised the event opened and closed the period following a questions and answer period. He also covered the local initiative that he is working on with Craigavon Intercultural Programme that is centred around social and societal change as well as other initiatives aimed at 'Moving The Nation', increasing physical activity and health of the population for the benefit of Central and local governments.

Feedback from attendees was for more events of this nature and this will be investigated using local partnerships. Details to be published soon. MEI hopes to repeat such events for Brazil, Qatar and any other high growth countries to continue to support SMEs in particular to become more aware of why they can succeed in these export markets. Should you wish to follow up with the speakers please contact MEI at:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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