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From baby steps to bold charges

Whichever stage of growth SMEs are at, they are always on the lookout for new opportunities


'OUR logo has blue and green. Where there is sky, water, or land, you will find Axe Oil there," says Leong Mun Sum, managing director of Leung Kai Fook Medical Co (LKF Medical), the company behind Axe Oil.

Today, Axe Brand Universal Oil is sold in more than 50 countries but the company still sees expansion opportunities, especially as more and more countries trust Asian herbal preparations as an alternative to Western medicines.

These are bold words - and Mr Leong has much to be proud of - but this is nonetheless a sentiment held by most businesses which recognise that Singapore is too small a playing field.

It is not an insurmountable problem, however, as companies that are headquartered here are well-positioned to take the Singapore brand overseas with them, finding that it opens more doors especially in the region.

OCBC Bank, our partner for this BT Salutes Enterprise series, has also seen a similar growing interest in internationalisation among local businesses.

Says Linus Goh, head of global commercial banking at OCBC Bank: "We see a growing trend of SMEs seeking growth internationally. In Singapore and in our core markets in South-east Asia and Greater China, SMEs are deepening their presence in their overseas markets and seeking new markets for growth."

OCBC Bank has dedicated itself to building a strong regional network to serve the regional ambitions of its customers. Says Mr Goh: "With dedicated teams of regional bankers and in-country specialists, we aim to help businesses ease their entry, establish their local network and navigate the complexities of operating in different markets."

At the other end of the spectrum is Eagle Eye Centre, which is at the stage where it just beginning to contemplate expansion. It is taking baby steps however, preferring to wait for a time when its revenue stream is more stable, and when it can expand "properly" to mitigate risks of brand dilution.

Co-founder Lim Wee Kiak says: "We can only expand when we have good doctors. And the only way for us to expand is to have like-minded eye doctors overseas that we can work with or recruit."

Today marks the end of our BT Salutes Enterprise series. But the journey of our enterprises is, as you have read and seen, far from over. Whichever stage of growth they are at, whether they are pursuing innovation and/or geographical expansion, they are actively growing and always on the lookout for new opportunities.

Cover design: Gareth Chung Illustration: Dania Amiril Sub-editor: Lee Kim Siang Photographers: Don Wong, Joseph Nair Advertising sales: Lam Wy-ning 9368-5685; Stella Yeo 9799-9001; Calista Ang 8188-1471; Jonathan Kee 9835-5400; Veronica Chong 8127-8929


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