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IE Singapore paves way for SMEs to break into India market

Collaborations with SKP, 91springboard to help reduce barriers to entry

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IE Singapore's assistant CEO Satvinder Singh made the point that there are Singapore SMEs that face challenges when making their first foray into India, such as the lack of a deep understanding of customer needs, regulations and tax policies.

Singapore

WHEN local food manufacturer Tong Garden wanted to build a manufacturing plant in the Indian state of Gujarat, the company turned to SKP Business Consulting, an Indian professional services firm, for guidance to register the land there.

James Ong, managing director of Tong Garden, said that while his company has been exporting to India for nearly a decade, it was treading on new ground when it came to setting up a manufacturing plant.

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"It was extremely important to find an experienced market consultant so we can register our land as quickly as possible," he said.

"For SMEs (small- and medium-sized enterprises), cost, time and contacts make a huge difference to our bottom line. Initiatives providing SMEs with cost-effective options for office space and market research are very useful as we expand in the market."

International Enterprise (Singapore) hopes to help more companies like Tong Garden gain a foothold and build connections in India, after the trade agency inked separate deals with SKP and 91springboard, India's largest co-working community.

In a news release on Tuesday, IE Singapore said it was teaming up with SKP to conduct market research and competitor analyses, and to come up with suitable market entry strategies for Singapore SMEs.

The agency added that this will help them understand the business environment and market needs in India, and find business contacts quickly and efficiently.

This could benefit first-timers to the Indian market, such as technology start-up Emmfer, a company that provides facial detection and recognition services.

"In India, co-working spaces are more feasible than renting our own office space as we are new to the market and relatively manpower-lean at this point," said Emmfer's co-founder and CEO Benjamin Tang.

As for the tie-up with 91springboard, IE Singapore said it would work together to offer more than 10 co-working spaces in major cities in India such as Bangalore, New Delhi, Gurgaon, Hyderabad and Mumbai.

SMEs can access business advisory services through 91springboard's pool of 70 service providers covering business incorporation, financing, legal, HR management and tax.

Companies can also tap on its network of 650 startups and 3,000-strong member database, as well as take part in mentorship programmes, workshops and seminars.

Deepak Sharma, the Singaporean co-founder and investor of 91springboard, said his four-year-old company has been focused on building a community of trust beyond the plug-and-play infrastructure.

"This becomes a great value proposition for international companies coming to India as they get to meet a lot of trusted partners and do not need to deal with any local setup hurdles. I welcome Singapore companies to take advantage of our co-working space's collaborative eco-system to grow and capture the market's potential," he said.

According to latest figures, Singapore's cumulative investments into India grew by 30 per cent to reach S$29.6 billion as at the end of 2015.

India saw its gross domestic product expand by 7.9 per cent last year, making the country one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Consumption is projected to grow four-fold by 2025 to US$1.06 trillion.

IE Singapore said in its release that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's administration's initiatives and push for greater foreign direct investment have seen Singapore companies gain traction in the consumer, infrastructure, manufacturing, digital and technology sectors.

IE Singapore's assistant CEO Satvinder Singh made the point that there are Singapore SMEs that face challenges when making their first foray into India, such as the lack of a deep understanding of customer needs, regulations and tax policies.

"SMEs are also hoping to connect to potential partners and market advisors. Our partnerships with 91springboard and SKP aim to reduce the barriers to entry and help them set up initial in-market presence," he said.

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