These days globalisation is largely treated as a dirty word. But arguments about Britain's role in the EU aside, what does a British company's role in the international market place actually mean and look like?
Well recently I got a good look at what it can look like. We hosted ambassadors and representatives from countries all around the world, members of the House of Lords and House of Commons, major trade associations, and David Lidington the Minister of State for Europe to an event in Parliament. The event was designed to showcase the international membership of our company and our global outlook.
At a time when the UK is debating whether or not to remain in the European Union, much of the discussion focusses on whether that would make Britain a more 'inward looking' place. If leaving is what the British people decide they want to do, I hope it remains the outward looking nation that attracted myself and my colleague Atif Kamran to start LEO here, I'm sure it will.
The very reason Atif and I founded LEO in Britain was because of its internationalist brand. Given we do much of our work in Asia and Eastern Europe, the instant recognition and credibility conferred by the Union Jack and United Kingdom is vital to our business model.
We reached out across borders and invited dignitaries from over 20 embassies, as well as corresponding representatives for our company, to discuss and share ideas about British business abroad. As you can imagine the EU Referendum did colour much of the discussion, but it didn't bog us down, we were there to talk about how businesses work together over and above international trade agreements and national government structures.
Our business is about connecting SMEs at an international level, and it speaks volumes that ambassadors and Ministers were so keen to come along and discuss how this works in practice. Only four years ago LEO was a small Oxfordshire-based business; now it has tens of millions in turnover, with offices in Hong Kong, Slovenia and the Philippines - a fact not lost on the Europe Minister.
At the heart of our message to Ministers was the point that the technologies that businesses are increasingly using make much of the debates around trade deals and bilateral agreements seem outmoded and archaic. Our members were able to tell MPs, Peers and ambassadors about the latest financial technology our people use, including digital currencies like our own LEOcoin, and crowdfunding through platforms like our own LEOcrowd. Technologies that are designed to deliberately 'side step' governments, regulators, trade tariffs, and instead connect people directly. In that context, governments are probably better off just getting out the way.
Dignitaries followed up with offers of support and promises of establishing contact with the right people in their home countries - is that what globalisation looks like? Does the fact we're a British company help make that happen, I'm sure it does. Regardless of which way Britain goes in the EU Referendum, regardless of TTIP and everything else, global businesses will keep finding new and innovative ways to connect and trade - with or without government help.
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