A helping hand for overseas expansion

GlobalConnect@SBF is helping local enterprises navigate the challenges of internationalisation

With different rules, unfamiliar customs and local competition to deal with, expanding into a new country can be daunting for Singapore firms hoping to grow their international footprint.

To help them overcome these and other obstacles, SBF, in partnership with Enterprise Singapore, has launched GlobalConnect@SBF to support local enterprises in their efforts to internationalise. Companies can tap on this resource to gain insights and market intelligence, as well as connections to local experts and partners in the markets they are keen to enter.

Receiving customised advice

One Singapore firm that has leveraged GlobalConnect@SBF is Guava Amenities, which specialises in supplying guest amenities – such as shampoo, body wash and dental kits – to international hospitality chains around the world. Looking to set up an entity in Vietnam to meet the needs of its customers there, the company approached GlobalConnect@SBF to better understand the market’s local regulations and market requirements.

“We had appointed a distributor in Vietnam to import our products from China. However, our customers wanted to increase the quantity of products that is produced locally to reduce the carbon footprint,” explained Gabriel Tan, Director, Guava Amenities. This required Guava to incorporate a company in Vietnam to work with the local manufacturer and also to repatriate money more easily.

GlobalConnect@SBF introduced Guava to law firms and banks that could help them navigate the red tape in Vietnam and cope with conditions on the ground. It also linked the company to The Vietnam Embassy (Singapore), which advised on regulatory requirements.

“The GlobalConnect@SBF market specialist was extremely helpful. I consulted her at different stages with many different questions. She was very patient as she sought to understand what we wanted and provided us with relevant solutions,” said Gabriel. “The advice given was customised to our specific needs.”

While the pandemic has slowed Guava’s entry into Vietnam, Gabriel hopes that plans can be accelerated as economies in the region re-open.

Going forward, Guava is looking to expand its geographical footprint and deepen its operations in the markets it operates in, as it grows alongside its hotel chain clients. It is currently exploring the possibility of setting up an entity in Indonesia and is once again tapping on GlobalConnect@SBF for this new venture.

A trusted sounding board

Another local enterprise looking to expand in Asia is OpSolutions, an IT company that provides digital solutions to companies. It counts MNCs such as Unilever Food Solutions among its key clients. It is also an Apple reseller in the Philippines.

As part of its regional expansion, OpSolutions is planning to open offices in Indonesia and Vietnam, and approached GlobalConnect@SBF for assistance. “We needed professional unbiased advice from a reputable and trusted source. GlobalConnect@SBF helped us understand what the regulations in the respective countries are, what we need to look out for, and helped to validate points provided by our overseas partners,” said Mervin Toh, CEO, OpSolutions.

GlobalConnect@SBF also introduced the company to legal experts who could provide clarity on the contracts written in Vietnamese. OpSolutions is currently in the process of setting up its offices in the two countries.

“As economies become integrated, having a reliable source to help to navigate unfamiliar regulations, culture issues, government policies is very important,” said Mervin.


GlobalConnect@SBF supports companies’ business expansion into new markets. In particular, the platform focuses on the ASEAN region, emerging markets, FTA education and outreach, and markets along the Belt and Road.

This initiative supports companies in the following stages of internationalisation:

  • Setting the Stage – GlobalConnect@SBF can help you explore and identify potential markets as well as link you to relevant government resources.
  • Building the Foundation – Once you’ve identified the markets and are ready to take the next step, GlobalConnect@SBF will help you build your research and market entry strategy and connect you with the right business partners.
  • Starting up Overseas – When you’re ready to open an overseas office, GlobalConnect@SBF can assist you with financing and compliance advisory, as well as corporate setup services.

Find out more here.