More than 500 SMEs access new overseas markets under Grow Digital initiative

SMEs that sign up to adopt eligible solution packages by Sept 30 can receive grant support of up to 90 per cent. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A string of mummy fair cancellations caused by the Covid-19 outbreak in recent months meant a drastic drop in income for homegrown seasoning food powder brand Lilo.

Earnings from such events had traditionally made up over 90 per cent of takings for the company, which produces food powders made with such ingredients as mushrooms and ikan bilis.

The brand owes its survival to reaching brand new customer segments online, not just in Singapore but also in regional countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.

Lilo accomplished this expansion to new markets by participating in the Grow Digital initiative, which allows small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to sell their products online to overseas markets without needing in-market physical presence.

The joint initiative by Enterprise Singapore and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) officially launched on Monday (June 22).

It links up firms with pre-approved e-commerce platforms and digital solution partners which can maximise reach and networks across multiple countries.

SMEs that sign up to adopt eligible business-to-consumer solution packages by Sept 30 can receive grant support of up to 90 per cent.

Providing an update on the initiative, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Education Chee Hong Tat shared in a webinar on Monday that over 500 SMEs have benefited from the programme, gaining access to overseas markets through digital means.

Using local eyewear brand Nanyang Optical as an example, Mr Chee said that it joined the initiative with plans to expand its e-commerce business to overseas markets, starting with Indonesia. This is after the firm decided it needed a stronger online presence to reach out to more customers during the circuit breaker period.

"I am pleased to share that the results have been encouraging for Nanyang Optical... This is an example of turning crisis into opportunity," said Mr Chee.

Speaking in a webinar attended by over 700 companies, he added that even though the past weekend created some optimism among businesses reopening in phase two, the battle against Covid-19 was not over.

The ongoing pandemic means that businesses must adapt to new operational changes and consumer preferences, he said. The Grow Digital initiative is one way to help firms with enterprise transformation.

Ms Chew Mok Lee, Enterprise Singapore's assistant chief executive for infocomm media and digitalisation, said: "I urge SMEs to leverage Grow Digital to diversify their sources of revenue and seize new business opportunities beyond our shores."

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