More funds to help firms venture abroad

There is extra cash in the kitty this year to help companies trying to break into overseas markets.

The increased funds are for a scheme where IE Singapore joins forces with local trade associations and chambers of commerce to organise trade fairs and business missions.

Up to 70 per cent of the costs of these initiatives can be covered by the international marketing activities programme (iMAP), which has had its funding increased by 10 per cent to $22 million. The move announced yesterday is expected to support about 300 trade fairs, benefiting over 4,700 companies.

Mr Andrew Tjioe, executive chairman of TungLok Restaurants, told a briefing yesterday: "It is often daunting for firms to venture overseas on their own as they lack the in-market knowledge and have trouble finding good overseas business contacts."

Mr Tjioe, representing the Franchising and Licensing Association, cited the importance of trade fairs as avenues for firms to obtain business leads, form connections with potential business partners and gain market exposure.

Transicom Engineering, which specialises in designing and making automation systems for the food and chemicals industries, is one such example.

EXPLORING DIGITAL OPTIONS

Digitalisation is becoming the new norm. An increased focus on digitally themed fairs with this year's iMAP funding will improve the understanding that SMEs have of the digital market while encouraging firms to explore new innovative digital options to retain customers.

MR SATVINDER SINGH, assistant CEO of IE Singapore, citing the importance of SMEs remaining relevant and staying aware of digital trends amid the ever-changing digital landscape.

The firm has been able to expand its network in Vietnam following its attendance at the Propak Vietnam trade fair in 2012. Around 18 per cent of its sales revenue has been generated from the trade fair.

Mr Kurt Wee, president of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, told the briefing that iMAP will encourage companies to venture into the South-east Asian market.

"South-east Asia is a top market of interest for SMEs as it is a high-growth region driven by strong infrastructure demand and rising consumption power," said Mr Wee.He added that Singapore's location makes it easier for firms to manage their regional operations from here.

Mr Satvinder Singh, assistant chief executive of IE Singapore, cited the importance of SMEs staying aware of digital trends at yesterday's media briefing.

"Digitalisation is becoming the new norm. An increased focus on digitally themed fairs with this year's iMAP funding will improve the understanding that SMEs have of the digital market while encouraging firms to explore new innovative digital options to retain customers," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2017, with the headline 'More funds to help firms venture abroad'. Print Edition | Subscribe