Nearly 50% of SMEs 'expect more revenue' with overseas expansion

They are looking to benefit from their overseas expansion: Survey

Nearly half of small and medium- sized enterprises (SMEs) here expect to ring up higher revenues this year on the back of growth driven by overseas expansion, a new survey has found.

But this view was hardly consensus with 20 per cent of firms predicting a fall in revenue of 10 per cent or more, according to the findings from Standard Chartered Bank and Singapore Business Federation.

About 300 SME bosses responded to the online poll conducted over the last two months.

Among the respondents, 96 per cent reported a presence in at least one overseas market while 60 per cent said they derive more than 20 per cent of their revenues overseas.

India was the top pick for bosses to expand their new businesses this year. Indonesia was the second most popular market, followed by Cambodia and China.

Those polled said they favoured these countries for their large domestic markets.

Ms Vanessa Leung from StanChart encouraged SMEs to go to their local banks to find out more about cross-border financing solutions. PHOTO: STANDARD CHARTERED

The survey also found that 26 per cent of SMEs said they planned to seek alternative financing to fund their overseas ventures, such as peer-to-peer lending platforms.

"When it comes to financing challenges, a majority of SMEs - 70 per cent - say that their lack of a proven track record in the foreign market makes it difficult for them to access funds," said Ms Vanessa Leung, StanChart Bank Singapore's head of commercial banking. She encouraged SMEs to go to their home banks to find out more about cross-border financing solutions.

About 32 per cent of SMEs said they intended to do just that, although 42 per cent said they planned to partner a new bank in their new market.

"Quite a number of banks have network arrangements where they look at the host country to take on part of the credit assessment," she added.

Mr Simon Tay, managing director of Baker's Heaven, which exports frozen cream puffs to Delhi, said he had no trouble arranging invoicing and financing for his India business as he banks with DBS Bank, which also has branches in India.

Correction note: Ms Leung was referring to banks in the SMEs' home market, which means both local and international banks since "local" is usually taken to mean DBS/UOB/OCBC.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 21, 2016, with the headline 'Nearly 50% of SMEs 'expect more revenue''. Print Edition | Subscribe