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Firms' enterprise recognised with Queen's Award

Three Kent businesses have been honoured by the Queen.

Maidstone-based Kemet International, Maviga International, of Yalding, and Educational Cultural Exchanges (ECE) in Chislehust have each won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the International Trade Category.

They are among 194 winners, the largest number since the prestigious awards were first presented 44 years ago.

Overall, 135 companies won Awards for International Trade, 49 for Innovation and 10 for Sustainable Development. There were no Kent winners in the latter two categories.

It is the second time that Maviga, which runs a worldwide operation in dried edible pulses from its headquarters in Yalding, has won the Queen’s award. and recognises the firm’s continued growth worldwide.

Its main activity is the origination, processing and trading of peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas and other special crops including popcorn, hibiscus, groundnuts, sesame, canary, niger, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

Maviga employs eight people in Yalding, out of a worldwide workforce of 46. Last year, turnover was around £150million, almost all of it earned overseas.

Chief financial officer Andrew Cooke said the company was delighted with the accolade. "We won it for six years’ sustained profit growth," he said. "We’re expanding in new markets, paticularly in Africa and we trade in over 70 countries across the world."

Established in 1938, Kemet International, of Parkwood Trading Estate, Maidstone, is at the forefront of diamond polishing and precision lapping.

ECE, formed in 1987, provides tailor-made, educational opportunities for students and adults of all ages to destinations in the UK, Ireland and mainland Europe. Export earnings have risen fourfold in the last six years.

"We are delighted to have been honoured with such a prestigious award," said managing director Mike Clark.

"Much of our early work was created in response to a world leader who identified an opportunity to break down cultural barriers and make the world a better and safer place, through international travel."

Business minister Lord Mandelson, said: "I heartily congratulate all today’s winners of The Queen’s Awards. These inspirational firms have proved they are amongst Britain’s very best businesses. They are flying the flag for British enterprise, innovation and corporate responsibility, both here and abroad.

"They have achieved the UK’s most prestigious standard of business excellence, and set the standard for other businesses to follow as they help lead Britain out of recession."

The Duke of York, the UK’s Special Representative for International Trade and Investment, added: "Over the years, I’ve visited many Queen’s Award winning firms, and have seen first hand just what a boost this award brings to their business and their employees. My sincere congratulations to this year’s record haul of winners."

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