Open Borders Direct - new digital platform to de-risk international trade for UK SMEs

Published:  10 December, 2020

The largest trade associations in the UK have collaborated to launch an innovative platform to help SMEs understand the potential risks they may face as an international trader. Open Borders Direct® has been developed with the International Chamber of Commerce, Make UK, FSB, Food & Drink Federation, UK Warehousing Assoc., British International Freight Assoc. and the Inst. Of Leadership & Management.

The platform uses the latest digital tools to bring together in one place the help SMEs need to safely navigate key crunch points for international trade - the legal aspects, payments, delivery and complex documentation, insurance and liabilities as well as market planning. An innovative risk report is created with every query, helping companies decide which markets to explore, and equally importantly, which it would be wise to avoid.

Due Diligence searches are included, allowing a small business to quickly research their potential customer base alongside understanding local risks through adverse media and sanctions. There is also an Incoterms®2020 digitised selection tool to help companies work out potential contractual liabilities, HMRC Tariff codes, FX Virtual Bank accounts, Single invoice insurance and alternatives to letters of credit.

With so many unknown issues yet to face, the platform will be updated as the trading landscape emerges in the coming months. Companies will be supported with an extensive online help resource - ‘Ask Lesley’ - that allows businesses to send in questions and access experts directly online.

From January 1st 2021, UK businesses need to treat all trading markets, including European ones, as they have the rest of the world and as such this needs a rethink on how to tackle the new landscape. OBD® is ready to help and support SMEs in understanding what is needed and where they may have missed a step –

Open Borders Direct co-founder Lesley Batchelor OBE said:

“With so many great trade associations and international organisations of the UK behind this platform, Open Borders Direct® has created a safe space for SMEs to explore and understand the risks they might face internationally. It takes them on a safe and protected journey to understand what they are good at, the markets they should look to explore and to understand the risks before they start. Getting off to the right start is key to making a success of trading on a wider global stage and this platform is the perfect launch pad.”

About Open Borders Direct

Mark Heath founder and CEO – Mark has 35 years’ experience in the insurance industry across broking and underwriting both Property, Casualty and Specialist lines including risk financing for corporates, captives and mutual insurance companies. Mark set up and is CEO of Acies MGU a Managing General Underwriter specialising in insurance solutions driven by great user experience, technology and data analytics - giving customers valuable insights and risk protection.

Co-founder Lesley Batchelor OBE – Lesley is a champion of UK exporters, with a powerful track record in enhancing the international performance of hundreds of businesses. From a blue-chip background, she worked as director general of the Institute of Export (IOE) for 12 years promoting professionalism and the need for qualifications and support for businesses. Past CEO of Open2Export. Lesley is often sought out for comment on Brexit and international trade issues writing thought leadership pieces for many journals, TV and radio stations.


Sign up for the PWE newsletter

Latest issue

To view a digital copy of the latest issue of Plant & Works Engineering, click here.

View the past issue archive here.

To subscribe to the journal please click here.


"How is your manufacturing business preparing for a net Zero target?"