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MORE workshops will be organised this year to equip small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with information on overseas markets and to connect them with potential business partners, said International Enterprise (IE) Singapore on Monday.
More than 15 such workshops will be run in markets popular among Singapore companies, such as China, India, Myanmar and the US; last year, only nine were conducted.
These workshops, conducted jointly by IE Singapore and trade associations and chambers in-market overseas, typically last three to five days.
They were started in 2009, and have gone up in number as a result of feedback from the SMEs that actual on-the-ground knowledge of a market is useful for their expansion plans.
Capped at 15 participants, these workshops give SMEs first-hand experience of the market conditions and the politics of the country through classes and site visits. Sessions are also held for participants to interact with and learn from Singapore businesses already in the market, and to network with potential local business partners.
IE Singapore said that since 2013, more than 450 individuals from over 280 companies have attended these workshops.
For example, two Singapore SMEs - online florist Xpressflower.com and food-and-beverage (F&B) outfit Saybons broke into the Philippine market after a workshop in April. Xpressflower.com set up a brick-and-mortar storefront in Manila to complement its e-commerce business; Saybons is in talks with potential franchise partners met through the workshop.
After a workshop in Vietnam in 2015, F&B company Tai Sei Hei, which sells soya bean desserts and drinks under the Xiao Ban banner, set up shop in Ho Chi Minh's SC VivoCity last November. IE Singapore said the company has recorded monthly growth in revenue of 10 per cent and is planning five more outlets there by 2018.
Workshops in the pipeline include one on construction and housing in Ghana and the Ivory Coast, a healthcare workshop in Indonesia, an urban-solutions workshop in the Middle East and an Islamic consumer retail workshop in Xi'an in China's Shaanxi province.
Tan Li Lin, group director for Customer Services at IE Singapore, said: "Unfamiliarity with overseas markets is a top concern among SMEs which go overseas. They have fewer resources and networks to help them navigate and understand local conditions."
The workshops are conducted in a guided setting, with programmes customised for industries.
"This raises SMEs' confidence and enables them to make calculated decisions," she said.