ID Connections

IDC’s Export Mission to India: A Post Mission Report

Published by Sarah Brown, October 28, 2011.

Ten IDC members, along with IDC Executive Director, Susan Wiggins, travelled to India to explore opportunities for working in the region. The Mission was offered as part of the Global Opportunities for Associations (GOA) program of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) and took place from September 26 to October 5. The visit to India marked the third export mission that IDC has offered to members, with prior missions to the UAE and China.

GOA's program mandate is export marketing in order to support companies interested in exporting their products or services to foreign markets. Alternatively, the program invites foreign delegates to Canada to learn more about Canadian products and services. IDC is the recipient of two GOA Grants for the 2011/12 year.

The first grant supported the travel of 49 delegates to IIDEX/NeoCon Canada this year. This is an excellent way to promote Canadians to international interior designers, architects and the media. IIDEX has been the recipient of GOA funding for the past seven years and over that time has exposed more than 300 international delegates to the IIDEX experience. Delegates attending IIDEX also participate in Canadian manufacturer plant tours to learn more about Canadian products. The second grant supported the travel of our delegates on the India Mission.

In each case, the grant covers half of the delegate's travel including airfare, hotel, meals and incidentals for a set number of days. The rest of the costs are funded by the delegates themselves. In addition, for outbound export missions, such as India, the program also provides the same funding to one board member and one staff member who leads the mission (this is a requirement of the program). The staff member organizes the entire program and attends to ensure the delegate's needs are met and the meetings go as planned. The staff member is the key contact for the mission and also for all follow-up upon return from the Mission. The board member, in IDC's case, is the current President who attends to represent IDC and the profession throughout the Mission.

In India, the members split their time between Mumbai and Delhi. In each city, Susan Wiggins had organized numerous meetings including a key meeting with the Canadian Consulate on the first day. This is the most important meeting when attending a trade mission. Local representatives of the Canadian Government are there to help Canadians interested in doing business in the region. In each city, the presentation covered the current economic climate, the potential for opportunities in interior design and an overview of the process and protocol for working with Indian businesses.

In addition to the meetings with the Canadian Government, Mission delegates also attended meetings in each city with the President of the local interior design association and with a local real estate developer. In Mumbai, the real estate developer was Brookfield, a name familiar to most in the corporate, commercial sector. In addition, attendees participated in a trade show in Mumbai where IDC had taken a space to promote the Canadian interior design sector to the Indian marketplace.

The balance of the time is spent touring architectural landmarks, in particular any that have been publicized through the North American media and/or any that have been designed by Canadians. We were fortunate to have a private tour of the Oberoi Amaravilas hotel in Agra, a hotel designed by ARIDO member and recent winner of the enRoute Hotel Awards, Jeffery Wilkes.

What did we learn on this Mission? There are plenty of opportunities for interior designers to work in India if it is a market that your company is interested in with most of the opportunities currently being in the hospitality and residential development sectors. For a company to do business in the region, they should set aside approximately $25,000 as a budget to get started (although most attendees felt that budget was underestimated).

While export missions aren't for everyone, for those who are interested in pursuing foreign markets, it is an excellent way to begin the journey. IDC is proud of the work we have done with DFAIT in having our funding applications supported year after year. With each Mission we do, we are provided with one more opportunity to promote the Canadian interior design sector internationally. The relationships we have developed, through Susan's work on both the inbound and outbound Missions over the past seven years, has developed an international network that all members can access when they have questions about export opportunities.

For more information on export opportunities for your company and resources available through IDC, or to learn more about IDC's next anticipated mission to Chile, please contact Susan Wiggins, Executive Director at

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