SBF Resumes Overseas Market Workshops as COVID-19 Pandemic Wanes

Inaugural workshop attracts 16 companies to Vietnam, a key market of interest for Singapore companies.

After a two-and-a-half-year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic, SBF organised its first Overseas Market Workshop (OMW) to Ho Chi Minh City from 22-26 August 2022. A total of 16 companies and 23 representatives comprising mainly SMEs participated.

SBF’s OMWs are designed to provide participating businesses with in-market exploration and learning opportunities. These OMWs are supported by EnterpriseSG and targeted at companies that are in the initial stages of exploring and expanding their business into overseas markets.

Vietnam’s growth potential

Amongst countries in Southeast Asia, Vietnam is one of the top performers in economic recovery from the pandemic. Key factors include its resilient manufacturing sector and a robust rebound in its services sector. A World Bank economic update for Vietnam released on 8 August 2022 estimated that GDP growth will surge from an estimated 2.6% in 2021 to 7.5% in 2022.

Vietnam’s economy expanded from 5.1% in Q1 2022 to 7.7% in Q2 2022, as consumption levels picked up bolstered by pent-up purchasing demand and resumption of foreign tourist arrivals. 

Singapore remains the top foreign investor in Vietnam since 2020 and the Vietnam OMW aims to forge stronger trade and investment relations between the business communities of Singapore and Vietnam.

The OMW included field visits, business presentations and networking sessions for participants to gain first-hand understanding of the market dynamics and emerging sectors in Vietnam, as well as establish useful business contacts.

Specifically, the workshop also included briefings on understanding the Vietnamese consumer behaviour, the nation’s history, culture and market by LNT Legal Services and A8 Resources – a Singapore company specialising in human resource in Vietnam, as well as a briefing by Dezan Shira & Associates – a pan-Asian, multi-disciplinary professional services firm.

UOB Vietnam also gave a talk on banking procedures in Vietnam and hosted a networking session to connect participants with their Vietnamese counterparts. On top of that, participants received insights from Bing Duong Investment & Promotion Agency and a tour of industrial parks and infrastructure. Daily briefings were held by SBF teams, including a meeting with the SME Association of Ho Chi Minh City.

Leveraging opportunities in Vietnam

Two participants shared with BiZQ their learnings from the workshop. Ms Valerie Lee, Director of software company Applivon, said that her company is planning to register an office in Vietnam and the OMW was very timely. Currently, her firm employs a team of Vietnamese software engineers who are based in Danang, and the workshop provided her with an opportunity to get a comprehensive picture of the market and understand the business landscape there. Applivon also has a software team in India.

Ms Valerie Lee (second from left) with fellow OMW participants.

“It was my very first OMW and found it very well planned and comprehensive as it covered legal and HR aspects as well as the behavioural patterns of consumers and the culture of the market. We met local businessmen as well as Singapore companies operating there and it was a privilege to hear and learn from them,” she said.

Applivon provides Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions that allow a business to enjoy the benefits of automation across all of its key functions. These could include managing inventory and warehouse, sales, invoicing, accounting and much more. The ERP solution is enterprise-wide, and Ms Lee said that her firm is monitoring the demand of such services in Vietnam. She is optimistic about business growth as Applivon’s proprietary products help businesses scale up affordably without drastic changes to existing operations.

Mr Lee Jin, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Tictag said he is grateful to SBF for helping him to form connections with Vietnamese businesses who are interested in finding out more about his services.

Mr Lee Jin (extreme left) made useful connections at the OMW.

Products and services offered by Tictag include a collection of audio clips, images as well as image labelling, audio transcription, translation, classification and named entity recognition. Tictag’s first-of-its-kind mobile data platform combines a user-friendly interface with gamified elements to produce the highest quality datasets powered by its proprietary Truetag Quality Control system. This is technology-enhanced labelling at its best and Mr Lee sees potential for business expansion into Vietnam and other neighbouring countries.

Mr Lee shared that his participation in the Vietnam OMW was more for reconnaissance as he wanted to check out expansion possibilities. He said, “It was superbly organised and met all my objectives. I am looking forward to participating in the next OMW!”

GlobalConnect@SBF is an initiative by SBF and supported by Enterprise Singapore to help businesses expand globally. GlobalConnect@SBF has since provided more than 6,400 advisories to Singapore companies. The initiative enabled 183 overseas ventures by Singapore businesses in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Africa, Bangladesh, Cyprus, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, and Turkey. To further support businesses venturing into Southeast Asia, SBF has established three Singapore Enterprise Centres (SECs) in Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City, and Bangkok. The SEC@Jakarta, SEC@Ho Chi Minh City and SEC@Bangkok are staffed by SBF’s Country Heads and local market advisors with in-depth knowledge about their respective markets. For more information on GlobalConnect@SBF and our SECs, please visit or email us at [email protected].