South African export grants

South African export grants

Would you like to export your product to a foreign market, but don’t have the finances to start? The South African government offers citizens a number of export grants through the export marketing & investment assistance (EMIA) scheme.

The EMIA’s purpose is to help develop new and grow existing export markets for South African products and services, and to attract foreign direct investment (FDI). The EMIA does this by assisting South African traders with:

  • Marketing;
  • Market research to identify new export markets;
  • Patent registration, quality mark, and product mark support; and
  • FDI missions and research to grow FDI.

Who qualifies for South African export grants?

  • South African manufacturers and exporters (product content must comprise at least 35% local materials).
  • South African export trading houses that represent three or more Small, Medium, and Micro-sized Enterprises (SMMEs) or businesses owned by Historically Disadvantaged Individuals (HDIs).
  • South African commission agents that represent three or more SMMEs or HDI-owned businesses.
  • South African export councils, industry associations, and joint action groups (JAGs) that represent five or more South African entities.

In addition to the above mentioned criteria, the EMIA will assess each applicant based on general qualifying criteria, including:

  • Export readiness
  • Export and/or production performance
  • Export and marketing competence of the person appointed to visit the foreign country (export country)
  • Available and accessible production and export capacity
  • Quality of export marketing planning
  • Type of export product, and the product’s performance in the local market
  • Product complexity (labour absorption, location, and technological requirements)
  • Industry in which the business operates
  • Timely and complete submission of qualifying documentation and adherence to criteria stipulated for each EMIA offering

Mandatory requirements and restrictions:

It is important to meet to the following EMIA requirements and adhere to restrictions to ensure that you have the best chances of obtaining a grant:  

  • Your business must have been trading for one or more financial year (for SA pavilions, 2 financial years);
  • Your business must be a registered South African legal entity (except in the case of sole proprietorship or partnerships);
  • You must be a registered taxpayer in good standing with SARS and able to provide a tax clearance certificate;
  • Your application must be submitted to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) two months before the commencement of your planned export event (for SA pavilions, 6 months).
  • Exporters that wish to market and export to South African Customs Union (SACU) countries do not qualify for grants;
  • If applying for an individual participation grant, you are limited to 4 applications per calendar year.
  • Only one representative from your business will qualify for support (a senior executive that has authority to conclude contracts on behalf of the firm).

Which export grants should I apply for?

The EMIA categorises export grants as follows: 1) Individual participation incentive schemes, and 2) Group participation incentive schemes. Table 1 lists the schemes that fall under each category.

Table 1: List of EMIA individual and group participation incentive schemes
Individual participation incentive schemesGroup participation incentive schemes
Individual exhibition (IE) and in-store promotions (IP)Group inward buying missions (IBM) and inward investing missions (IIM)
Primary market research (PMR) and FDINational pavilions (NP)
Individual inward mission (IIM)Outward selling mission assistance (OSM) and Outward investment mission assistance (OIM)

The type of grant you apply for will depend on your business needs. Below is a summary of the benefits of some of the most popular grants.

1) Individual exhibitions (IE) grant

Funding to assist exhibitors to market their products at recognised exhibitions or trade shows abroad, where Trade & Investment South Africa (TISA) does not provide for a national pavilion.

Table 2: Costs covered under the EMIA individual exhibitions (IE) grant
Type of businessCosts covered
HDI and SMMESample transport
HDI and SMMESubsistence allowance per day
HDI and SMMEEconomy class airfare (return)
All business entitiesExhibition costs
Other costs that may be covered include:• Stand construction
• Exhibition space rental
• Interpretation fees
• Internet connection and telephone installation

2) National pavilions (NP) grant

Funding to assist exporters to exhibit their products at a national pavilion in a foreign market. A national pavilion allows exporters to market their products along with other South African exporters under the South African banner at selected trade shows. Each year, the DTI publishes a list of recognised national pavilions that South African exporters can take part in. A benefit of exhibiting under a national pavilion is that the DTI arranges many of the logistical and marketing arrangements on behalf of the exporters.

Table 3: Costs covered under the national pavilions (NP) grant
Type of businessCosts covered
HDI and SMMEEconomy class airfare (return)
HDI and SMMESubsistence allowance per day
All business entitiesSample transport
All business entitiesExhibition costs

3) Individual inward mission (IIM) grant

Funding to assist exporters to organise a trip for a prospective foreign buyer to South Africa. The intention of this  trip is to conclude export orders with the buyer, or to attract foreign direct investment. This grant applies to first-time visitors only, and the buyer/investor must not have had any previous relations with the company.

Table 4: Costs covered under the individual inward mission (IIM) grant
Type of businessCosts covered
All business entitiesEconomy class airfare (return) – maximum value differs depending on the type of entity
All business entitiesSubsistence allowance per day
All business entitiesVehicle rental

4) Outward selling mission assistance (OSM) and outward investment mission (OIM) grant

Funding to assist exporters to conclude export deals with foreign buyers or to encourage and attract new FDI by visiting the buyers/investors abroad. This grant is applicable to groups (maximum participant numbers depend on the budget agreed upon by the EMIA and the mission organisers). Usually mission groups should be no larger than three (3) registered exporters, including the mission leader). Only one business executive with contracting authority per registered exporter will qualify for EMIA funding.

Table 5: Costs covered under the outward selling mission assistance (OSM) and outward investment mission (OIM) grants
Type of businessCosts covered
All business entitiesEconomy class airfare (return) – maximum value differs depending on the type of entity
All business entitiesSubsistence allowance per day
All business entitiesSample transport
All business entitiesFreight forwarding (for international trade initiatives only)
All business entitiesVenue hire and catering (for international trade initiatives only)
All business entitiesMission brochure
All business entitiesBusiness facilitation fees for B2B meetings

5) Primary market research (PMR) and foreign direct investment (FDI) grant

Funding to assist exporters to develop new export markets, or attract new FDI, by visiting potential buyers/investors and attending trade shows or conferences abroad. This grant only covers the costs for one registered exporter (business executive with the capacity to conclude contracts). Applicants must have a minimum of two appointments per day confirmed to qualify. Participation is limited to a maximum of three regions within the same country. No follow-up visits are allowed.

Table 6: Costs covered under the primary market research (PMR) and foreign direct investment (FDI) grants
Type of businessCosts covered
HDI and SMMEEconomy class airfare (return)
All business entitiesSubsistence allowance per day
All business entitiesSample and promotional material transport
All business entitiesMarketing materials
All business entitiesProduct registration in a foreign market (e.g. patent applications or quality mark registrations)

For more information on the qualifying criteria and costs covered under the different export grants, contact the Department of Trade & Industry. It is also important to remember that you need to have an import/export license to qualify as an “export ready” business.

For assistance with obtaining your import export license, or other Customs-related registrations, contact us on 0861 0 TRADE (87233), or visit our website.