Kickstart Your Internationalisation Drive

Singapore businesses keen on exploring emerging markets for growth can tap on SBF’s Global Connect programme for assistance.

Singapore companies are ramping up their internationalisation efforts this year as borders re-open after more than two years of pandemic-related restrictions. To help them on this journey, SBF offers a series of business activities to educate and support local enterprises as they seek out new markets to drive future growth.

SBF established the GlobalConnect@SBF programme in partnership with Enterprise Singapore to help Singapore businesses expand globally. Utilising a three-pillar framework of assistance that helps companies Learn, Land and Localise, the programme aims to give Singapore firms a better understanding about overseas markets through activities such as webinars, seminars, roundtables, business matching meetings and fireside chats that feature the potential business opportunities in those markets. These initiatives also cover relevant topics such as free trade agreements (FTAs) and how Singapore businesses can take advantage of them.

In 2020, amidst the pandemic, SBF launched FYIstival, an interactive digital space that integrates multiple forms of information and interactions through online webinars, business matching sessions and clinics, and virtual chatrooms. FYIstival participants can also access briefs, articles, and reports on the markets of their choice, as well as engage in group chats or one-to-one messaging with fellow participants.

SBF also organises overseas market workshops (OMWs) which enable local firms to physically travel to a particular market to learn more about its culture and how to do business there.  “As part of our OMWs, we provide participants with a mixture of classroom training as well as experiential training experiences,” said Mr Ray Kwan, Director, Global Division 3, SBF. He noted that education and market knowledge are key when a company expands abroad as there may be language, cultural and regulatory barriers that companies need to overcome when entering a new market.

Landing and localising for sustainable growth

After helping them learn about an overseas market, SBF then assists companies to physically set up operations there through international fairs and missions.

“We bring Singapore companies overseas to participate in international exhibitions or conferences so that they can engage with different businesses over there. We also offer one-to-one business consulting and advisory, as well as B2B matching services,” said Mr Kwan.

The final step in this three-pronged approach involves SBF helping to localise businesses to give them a better chance of long-term success. Among other initiatives, this involves connecting companies with local partners, as well as other Singapore firms that are already operating there.

“In order for Singapore businesses to be successful overseas, they must achieve some form of sustainability, and the best way to be sustainable is to localise the business,” explained Mr Kwan.

GlobalConnect@SBF also has offices in Jakarta, Indonesia; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; and Bangkok, Thailand, to further support Singapore companies venturing into these countries.

Going where the opportunities are

Of the markets he oversees, Mr Kwan is witnessing renewed interest in traditional markets such as India and the United Arab Emirates, as well as emerging ones such as Kazakhstan in Central Asia and Ghana and Nigeria in Africa.

“Kazakhstan is at a stage of its development where Singapore businesses will have a first- mover advantage in many different industries. For example, e-Commerce is not yet the norm in Kazakhstan, and this could be a boon for anyone who wants to enter this sector,” he said.

Meanwhile, the recent focus on food security could lead to opportunities for companies to diversify Singapore’s supply chain by importing food products from countries in Africa. For example, he shared d that there is a Singaporean entrepreneur running a chicken farm in Nigeria.

Latin America is another huge region that could hold plenty of opportunities for enterprising businesses. Singapore firms are already active in sectors such as oil & gas, infrastructure, transport and logistics, shipbuilding, technology, precision engineering and electronics.

Furthermore, Singapore recently signed the Pacific Alliance-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (PASFTA) with Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru. The FTA will help open doors for Singapore companies not only to the four countries, but to the whole Latin America region as well.

In early 2021, SBF launched the SBF-Latin American Business Group (LABG) to complement GlobalConnect@SBF’s effort in the Latin America region.

LABG is represented by key active business representatives from both Singapore and Latin America who are able to provide business networks and connections to companies looking to expand in either Singapore or the Latin America region.

“The Latin America region presents business opportunities to Singapore companies, especially in emerging sector of digitalisation. The region’s private sector is actively seeking global tech solutions to improve and optimise business operations, and this is where Singapore companies can provide the solutions, especially in e-commerce, fintech, healthcare, and stand to gain from this early mover advantage”, said Ms Tan Sock Joo, Director, Southeast Asia and Pacific, Global Division 1, SBF.

Between May 2021 to May 2022, SBF organised nine webinars with the support from the respective Latin American Embassy partners. SBF will also be organising a trade mission to Mexico in 4Q 2022. Singapore logistics and food companies especially those in the business of importing fruits, vegetables, dried nuts and other food products are invited to join by contacting [email protected]