Steven Mifsud MBE
Direct Access Consultancy Limited
TELL US ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS:
Direct Access was established in 2004. We are a disability accessibility consultancy that advises organisations on how to improve access for disabled people. This is achieved through:
- Access Appraisals working with architectural and construction firms to ensure accessibility is designed into new builds at the outset and
- Access Audits looking at established buildings and services to make recommendations on accessibility.
Both services draw on local disability legislation and building codes in the country of operation as well as international best practice.
We also undertake some bespoke consultancy on policy and procedures, for example working with governments on local emergency and hazard recovery plans or curation and programming for Expo 2020 Dubai.
FOCUS ON CANADA: HOW DID YOU SELECT THE CANADIAN MARKET AND HOW ARE YOU PROGRESSING WITH YOUR MARKET ENTRY PLANS?
The nature of our work advising organisations on accessibility and inclusion is, by its very nature, multisector. Our biggest sectors are major infrastructure programmes, mega-events and tourism.
There were several opportunities in Canada for the development of transportation and Direct Access were keen to use our expertise to assist with developing accessible rail facilities. We attended a couple of webinars on rail opportunities and secured a presentation slot at the Canadian Railway Suppliers Association conference in Calgary in November 2019. The in-country visit included meeting with representatives from the Department for International Trade (DIT), Toronto. Steven came away feeling very positive and with some leads to follow. At the same time another member of the Direct Access team had an article published in the Canadian Healthcare Estates Engineering journal on the impact of the new Accessible Canada Act. Shortly after, COVID hit and borders closed which prevented a return visit to Canada to follow up on leads.
Towards the end of 2021 as rules relaxed, Canada started procurement exercises again and Direct Access have been seeking partnerships to tender for contracts alongside architectural firms predominately in Toronto. We are re-engaging with people and looking for those partnership opportunities.
WHAT DIFFICULTIES HAVE YOU HAD TO OVERCOME?
There are challenges with communicating in French therefore we are focusing on Toronto initially. However, we have managed to win contracts in France which will start this May and are looking at what we can learn from our French operations to support work in Canada, particularly as there are some new developments coming up in Québec.
Now that borders are relaxing we are looking to return as there needs to be a visual presence on the ground.
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR TOP TIPS TO A BUSINESS THAT'S LOOKING TO TRADE IN THE COMMONWEALTH?
Don’t let location be your anchor!
WHICH ADDITIONAL COMMONWEALTH COUNTRIES ARE CURRENTLY PART OF YOUR EXPORT PLAN?
Malta – Steven is of Maltese heritage and was recently interviewed by Television Malta on his role as the Director of Accessibility for Expo 2020 Dubai, which included ensuring the accessibility of the Malta pavilion at Expo 2020.
Steven Mifsud MBE, Canada