IE Singapore to hold more overseas workshops to help SMEs venture abroad

SINGAPORE - International Enterprise (IE) Singapore will be organising more "in-market workshops" - workshops held overseas - to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) gain hands-on experience and connect with potential business partners.

This is in response to SMEs' feedback that actual on-the-ground experience of a market enables them to gain better insights.

This year, IE Singapore will conduct over 15 in-market workshops to markets popular among Singapore companies such as China, India, Myanmar and the United States, 60 per cent more than last year.

The workshops will also be focused on specific industries.

The in-market workshops, which normally last three to five days, provide SMEs with a first-hand experience of market conditions and political stability through classroom trainings and site visits.

There are also sessions to interact with and learn from fellow Singapore businesses already in the market, and networking opportunities with potential local business partners. These provide companies with the necessary information and contacts to start on their overseas expansion.

Mrs Tan Li Lin, the group director for customer services at IE Singapore said: "Unfamiliarity with overseas markets is a top concern among SMEs who go overseas. They have less resources and networks to help them navigate and understand local conditions.

"To alleviate this, we run in-market workshops, enabling companies to experience business conditions on the ground and connect them to like-minded partners. Importantly, we do this in a closely guided setting and customise the programme according to industries. This raises SMEs' confidence and enables them to make calculated decisions."

Such workshops have seen strong take-up, with over 450 participants from over 280 companies since 2013. A recent workshop to the Philippines in April helped lay the foundation for two Singapore SMEs to set up shop in the market.

One is online florist, Xpressflower.com, which has decided to set up a brick and mortar storefront in Manila to complement its e-commerce business, and the other is French Food Factory, known for its Saybons chain of restaurants, which is is now in discussion with potential franchise partners they met through the workshop.

Other workshops in the pipeline include a construction and housing workshop to Ghana and Ivory Coast, a healthcare workshop to Indonesia, an urban solutions workshop to the Middle East and an Islamic consumer retail workshop to Xi'an, Shaanxi province in China.