Are you a South African exporter looking to enter new foreign markets, but lack the finances to get going? The export marketing and investment assistance (EMIA) scheme has been developed by the South African government’s Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) to offer its citizens a range of export grants. The purpose of the EMIA scheme is to help South Africans develop new and expand existing export markets for their goods and services. It also aims to attract foreign direct investment (FDI). The EMIA scheme achieves this by offering South African exporters assistance that includes:

  • patent registration, quality and product mark support
  • marketing
  • identifying new export markets through market research
  • FDI missions and the research to grow FDI

Who is eligible for the EMIA grants?

  • South African exporters and manufacturers where products comprise a minimum of 40% local content or value addition, including packaging and raw material
  • South African businesses owned by Historically Disadvantaged Individuals (HDIs) or export trading houses that represent 3 or more small, medium, and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs).
  • South African commission agents that represent 3 or more HDI-owned businesses or SMMEs.
  • South African industry associations, export councils, and joint action groups (JAGs) that represent 5 or more South African businesses

What criteria must I meet?

To ensure the best chance of receiving an EMIA scheme grant, it is critical to comply with the restrictions and fulfil the requirements that follow:

  • business  trading for one or more financial year(for SA pavilions, 2 financial years)
  • business registered as a South African legal entity(excluding cases of partnerships or sole proprietorships)
  • applicant  registered as a taxpayer in good standing with the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and can produce a tax clearance certificate
  • completed application form submitted to the DTIC 3 to 6 months prior to the start date of the planned  event
  • exporters to South African Customs Union (SACU) countries do not qualify
  • individual participation grant applications are limited to 4 per calendar year
  • only one representative from the business will qualify for assistance (ideally a person with authority to conclude contracts on behalf of the company, e.g. a senior executive

Further, more general qualifying criteria are also used to assess certain applicants. These criteria include:

  • export readiness
  • export and/or production performance
  • export and marketing competence of the individual selected to visit the foreign (export) country
  • availability and accessibility of production and export capacity
  • quality of marketing planning for export
  • type of export product as well as its local market performance
  • complexity of the product (e.g. location, labour absorption, technological requirements )
  • industry in which the entity operates
  • complete and timely submission of documentation, as well as  meeting the criteria specified for each EMIA scheme offering

What export grants exist?

The EMIA programme categorises export grants and incentives as follows:

  • Individual Participation – falls under the DTIC Industrial Financing Branch (IFB),
  • Group Offerings – falls under DTIC Trade and Investment South Africa (TISA)
  • Sector-Specific Assistance Scheme (SSAS) and Capital Projects Feasibility Programme (CPFP) – falls under IFB

Table 1 lists the incentive schemes found under each category:

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Individual ParticipationGroup OfferingsSSAS AND CPFP
Individual Exhibition (IE) and In-Store Promotions (IP)Group Inward Buying Missions (IBM) and Group Inward Investing Missions (IIM)SSAS Project Funding
EMIA Primary Market Research (PMR) and FDI ResearchNational Pavilions (NP)SSAS Project Funding for Emerging Exporters
Individual Inward Bound Missions (IIM)Outward Selling Trade Missions (OSM) and Outward Investment Recruitment Mission (OIM)CPFP

Which export grant/s should I apply for?

Choosing which grant to apply for depends on the needs of your business.

A summary of the benefits of some of the most popular grants is given below.

  • Individual Exhibitions (IE) grant

What it entails: Funding to help exhibitors market their goods at recognised international trade shows or exhibitions (where TISA does not provide for a national pavilion).

Type of businessCosts covered
HDI and SMMESample transport
HDI and SMMESubsistence allowance per day
Additional support for persons with disabilities (PWD)
HDI and SMMEEconomy class airfare (return)
All business entitiesExhibition costs
All business entitiesMarketing materials
Other costs that may be covered include:• Stand construction
• Exhibition space rental
• Interpretation fees
• Internet connection and telephone installation
  • EMIA Primary Market Research (PMR) and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) grant

What it entails: Funding to help exporters develop new export markets or draw new FDI by visiting potential investors/buyers and attending international conferences or trade shows. This grant covers the costs for one registered exporter only (i.e. an executive with the authority to conclude contracts). A minimum of two confirmed appointments per day are required for the applicant to qualify. Furthermore, participation is restricted to a maximum of three regions within the country being visited. No follow-up visits are permitted.

Type of businessCosts covered
HDI and SMMEEconomy class airfare (return)
HDI and SMMESubsistence allowance per day
HDI and SMMESample and promotional material transport
HDI and SMMEDesign and print of marketing materials
All business entitiesProduct registration in a foreign market (e.g. patent applications or quality mark registrations
HDI and SMMEAdditional financial support for persons with disabilities
  • National Pavilions (NP) grant

What it entails: Funding to help exporters exhibit their goods at a national pavilion in a foreign market. A national pavilion allows exporters to market their goods at selected trade shows with other South African exporters under the South African banner. The DTIC publishes an annual list of recognised national pavilions that South African exporters can join. A benefit of using a national pavilion to exhibit is that the DTIC handles many of the marketing and logistical arrangements on behalf of exporters.

Type of businessCosts covered
HDI and SMMEEconomy class airfare (return)
HDI and SMMESubsistence allowance per day
All business entitiesSample transport
HDI and SMMEExhibition costs
  • Outward Selling Trade Missions (OSM) and Outward Investment Recruitment Mission (OIM) grants

What it entails: Funding to help exporters conclude export deals with foreign buyers or to draw new FDI by visiting the buyers/investors overseas. This grant is applicable to groups. The maximum number of participants depends on the budget agreed upon by the mission organisers and EMIA scheme. Typically mission groups are no larger than 3 registered exporters, including the mission leader. Additionally, one business executive only who has authority to conclude contracts per registered exporter will qualify for EMIA scheme funding.

Type of businessCosts covered
All business entitiesEconomy class airfare (return) – maximum value differs depending on the business type
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 business-to-business meetings

How do I apply?

In September 2022, the DTIC launched the Online Incentive Solution (OIS) to improve service delivery, turnaround times, prevent travel to the DTIC offices, and allow applicants to track the progress of their application. Not all the grants are linked to the system yet.

Individual Participation grants: As of 1 September 2022, applications were to be submitted online via the OIS platform available at

In-Store Promotion and Individual Inward Bound Mission (IIBM) applications can still be submitted manually or emailed to

Group Offerings grants: Depending on the grant applied for, submissions are to be made electronically or via registered mail or delivered by hand/courier.

Contact the DTIC for further information on the qualifying criteria and costs covered under the various grants. Note that, to qualify as an ‘export ready’ business, you must have an import/export license. Contact us on 087 550 1038 or visit our website for assistance with this or any other customs-related registrations.

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