Dozens of business leaders from across the West Midlands are set to learn how they can overcome the recession at home by developing trade links with firms in the Caribbean, West Africa and the Indian sub-continent at a launch event this week.

Birmingham based ethnic minority business organisation 3b is hosting the event, on March 31, ahead of of a programme of trade visits to the three locations during the next seven months at its offices in Handsworth.

Organisers say the visits offer a great opportunity, particularly for ethnic minority firms and women led businesses, to combat the down turn at home by tapping into expanding markets abroad which have long standing links with the UK and the West Midlands.

Tony Kerr, chief executive of 3b said: “These visits could be a real life saver for firms in the West Midlands, particularly for ethnic minority businesses. There are a wide range of fantastic business opportunities in these countries, particularly in the Caribbean, and these visits offer the chance to gain a foothold in these expanding markets.

“Our historical and cultural ties with these areas mean that it’s far easier for companies with the expertise and skills to break into new markets in these areas than other parts of the world.”

The three market visits are being organised by United Kingdom Trade and Investment (UKTI), a government agency supporting foreign trade, and the West Midlands Minority Ethnic Business Forum and are supported by the European Union with funding through the European Regional Development Fund.

The programme involves a 12-day visit to Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados starting on the 12 May, a week-long visit to Nigeria and Ghana at the end of June and a further week-long visit to Bangladesh at the beginning of October.

During the visits delegates from up to 28 firms will be introduced to a range business owners running similar sized business in the country, meet trade officials and establish contacts in a range of support services like banking and the legal profession.

The launch event starts at 11am March 31 at 3b Business Village, on Alexandra Road. Business leaders from more than 40 firms across the region are expected to attend.

Ajay Desai, leader of the diversity project for international trade in the West Midlands set up by region’s chambers of commerce, said: “Things are difficult for businesses at home right now but in various parts of the world there are fantastic business opportunities, the launch event gives businesses to have a look at what a visit to these areas could do for them.

“Business people throughout the West Midlands know these markets, they may have contacts there or relatives or may have holidayed there, a trade visit is a chance to use those contacts to get more business and make more money.

“In the Caribbean in particular, as well as the other two locations, there are a wide range of opportunities for instance in the tourism industry, in IT, in professional services like the legal profession as well as massive opportunities to provide training,” he said.

For further details contacts Tony Kerr or Owen McKenzie at 3b at or 0121 523 1828, or Ajay Desai on 07889807476 or