Fostering innovative partnerships

SBF is helping Singapore businesses connect and collaborate through its overseas market workshops

At SBF’s Overseas Market Workshop (OMW) for the construction sector held in Yangon in 2017, Ms Eilynn Lew, the founder of Singapore-based sanitary ware products supplier Eilumina Resources, made a valuable connection that would result, two years later, in a whole new business for her company.

At a dinner during the workshop, Ms Lew was introduced to Mr Loong Meng, the owner of engineering firm JVL and inventor of a patented water-saving technology. The two decided to collaborate; with Eilumina using Mr Loong’s innovation in a line of affordable luxury bathroom products they were developing.

This is just one of many ways SBF’s overseas market activities, including OMWs, have helped Singapore companies expand beyond Singapore’s shores.

“OMWs are designed to be an experiential learning for company representatives who are new to markets around the global; in this case, Southeast Asia. OMWs usually comprise case study workshops, panel discussions, site visits and class presentations so participants can quickly comprehend the political, economic, business, social and cultural dimensions in the market,” explained Mr Thian Tai Chew, SBF’s Executive Director, Global Business Division, ASEAN.

He added that participants will also get a deeper understanding of emerging business trends and opportunities in the market, as well as government policy impacting investors and businessmen.

“Through the networking sessions with local and Singapore business community in the market, participants will have ready contacts for them to follow up on when they next return to the country,” he said.

In 2018, SBF, with the support of Enterprise Singapore, organised over 30 business missions and overseas market workshops across the globe including the Netherlands, Japan, Myanmar and East Africa. For the rest of this year, SBF has OMWs and business missions to Nigeria, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, the Philippines , Cambodia, among others planned.

Beyond the introduction, Ms Lew said the OMW – the second she had attended – was also useful in helping her gain a better understanding of the Myanmar market. She shared, “The networking was very useful as we met companies from Myanmar as well as Singapore companies with experience in the market. We also got an idea of how things worked there on the ground.”

Eilynn Lew

A fruitful partnership

Eilumina was primarily engaged in sourcing and supplying sanitary ware products for OEM (original equipment manufacturer) clients in Europe. After 10 years in the business, however, Ms Lew decided to develop her own brand based on the idea that bathrooms can be both chic and affordable.

On meeting Mr Loong, she saw the benefit of adding his water-saving innovation to further differentiate her line. Their partnership would create a brand that would not only offer affordable premium bathroom products, but also one that promoted sustainability.

Two years after their meeting, the new line – known as HERA with iFlosense technology – was unveiled at the place the partners were first introduced: Yangon in May this year.

Following the launch, Eilumina now has big plans to expand the brand globally. Said Ms Lew: “The strategy is to go regional first. After Myanmar, we are going to Indonesia, then Malaysia and Vietnam.”

If you’d like to participate in one of SBF’s upcoming overseas market workshops or business missions, sign up here.