S’pore businesses say ‘I do’ to taking plunge overseas with government help

Enterprise Singapore reported that it supported a total of 76,000 Singapore enterprises during the year. — Reuters pic
Enterprise reported that it supported a total of 76,000 enterprises during the year. — Reuters pic

SINGAPORE, March 15 — After spending close to two decades here dressing up brides-to-be, Fatimah Mohsin, creative director of Fatimah Mohsin The Wedding Gallery, is getting ready to take the plunge as she looks to the Middle East to expand her business.

As the wedding boutique makes its big move next year, Fatimah, 43, will have help from Enterprise Singapore’s Plug & Play Network in Dubai, which offers services such as market consultation and business matching to help local enterprises venture overseas.

With S$20,000 (RM60,363) from Enterprise Singapore’s Market Readiness Assistance Grant, her dresses were showcased at fashion runway shows such as the Haute Elan London Modest Fashion Week and The Wedding KL in last year.

With other countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom on the company’s roadmap for expansion, Fatimah said such government grants would be a boost.

“We have to actually also do a lot more of overseas brand promotions, brand awareness, and the (Enterprise Development) grant will help to defray the branding and marketing costs, which are really expensive,” she said.

In its 2018 Year-in-review media briefing on Thursday (March 14), Enterprise Singapore reported that it supported a total of 76,000 Singapore enterprises during the year.

Over 570 overseas projects were facilitated last year — an increase of 25 per cent from 2017 — with 50 per cent of them in and South-east Asia. They are expected to bring about S$11.1 billion in overseas sales and S$6.1 billion of overseas investments.

Formed in 2018 with the merger of Spring Singapore and International Enterprise Singapore, Enterprise Singapore champions enterprise development and works with companies to build capabilities, innovate and internationalise.

Png Cheong Boon, chief executive officer of Enterprise Singapore, said that while the agency achieved a lot in its first year, it was “not without challenges”.

These included a volatile external environment and the transition phase following the formation of the organisation.

“There were situations where we have fallen short, such as approval for grant applications and disbursements that were much slower in some cases. We might not have responded fast enough to customer inquiries and many of us were still very unfamiliar with our own programmes,” said Png.

However, he stressed that their partners, customers and the business community have been very patient and understanding, with some alerting him of lapses so that they could rectify them quickly.

The government agency also supported 7,000 capability-upgrading projects last year, with the projects estimated to generate S$10.2 billion in value-add and 10,500 skilled jobs.

Ang Khim Wee, 33, head of business development at Lim Kee Food Manufacturing, said that a project which was funded by the Enterprise Development Grant had helped increase his company’s productivity. This was achieved by automating manual processes such as the sealing of its food products and calculation of expiry dates.

As part of its efforts to help companies grow and globalise, Enterprise Singapore also added eight new partners to their Plug & Play Network and two new countries: The United Arab Emirates and .

More than 1,000 startups were also assisted through the Startup SG programmes and partners, with Startup SG Equity co-investing close to S$36.5 million in 52 startups, catalysing about S$118 million in private investments.

Verleen Goh, chief operating officer of Alchemy Foodtech, said that Enterprise Singapore had co-led an investment of S$2.5 million with Heritas Capital Management in their pre-series A funding round. This allowed the company to open a food technology laboratory that would accelerate its development of lower glycemic index (GI) food staples.

Moving forward, Enterprise Singapore will be focusing its enterprise developments efforts and strategies on raising productivity, strengthening innovation and accelerating internalisation of local companies.

Although these areas are not new, the focus and approach of Enterprise Singapore will be quite different, said Peter Ong, chairman of Enterprise Singapore.

The key differences are:

  • Emphasis will be placed on helping a large base of micro and small enterprises adopt technology, automation and digitalisation from the get-go in order to uplift productivity
  • Companies will be supported in developing new technologies or adopting technology solutions to create their own intellectual property, leveraging innovation as a key differentiator
  • A broader base of small— and medium-sized enterprises will be given help to expand overseas for the first time and those with existing in-market presence will be supported in expanding their overseas footprint
  • One of the measures to better support enterprises in these areas is the new Scale-up SG programme, which will see its public and private partners providing customised guidance to these companies to help them become industry leaders. — TODAY

Source: The Malay Mail Online

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