SINGAPORE: International Enterprise (IE) Singapore is making it faster and easier for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to access a new grant to help enter overseas markets.
Companies applying for funding to assess and study overseas markets will need just three days to know if their application is approved.
The Market Readiness Assistance Grant is just one of the initiatives the trade agency has adopted to help Singapore companies focus more on internationalisation.
Established some 20 years ago, homegrown firm Goodpack Limited has seen its turnover grow to some US$178 million in 2012.
Last year, Singapore contributed just 20 per cent of the container-leasing firm's overall turnover.
With its headquarters in Singapore, Goodpack has benefitted from IE Singapore's Global Company Partnership scheme, which provides help for companies looking to grow internationally.
The company - currently the world's largest operator of environmentally friendly steel intermediate bulk containers - has received half a million dollars worth of government grants from the trade agency over the years.
While Goodpack owns 2.8 million intermediate bulk containers, none are kept in its Singapore headquarters. That's because Goodpack's customers have never been based in Singapore, until recently in Jurong Island.
With 18 offices worldwide, except in Middle East, the firm said the government can do more to support firms in their overseas expansion drive.
Its CEO Michael Liew said: "Singapore companies are always encouraged to go overseas. So maybe better tax incentives for foreign-sourced income. Maybe we are able to deduct some of the overseas investments against the Singapore trade income in the future.
IE Singapore is expanding the Global Company Partnership scheme to include meeting the manpower needs of local firms when they venture overseas.
Goodpack is one of the 15,500 companies IE Singapore has helped last year, and of which 85 per cent were SMEs.
The trade agency is looking to help more Singapore companies this year.
With the Market Readiness Assistance Grant, a company can apply for grants of up to S$20,000 of funding a year for legal and tax advisory as well as other related consultancy services for overseas expansion.
Companies with global headquarters in Singapore and annual turnover of less than S$100 million can apply for the scheme.
CEO of IE Singapore, Teo Eng Cheong said: "This year, we expected the numbers to improve slightly because in the next three years, many companies in Singapore will go through some restructuring. Some of them may be looking to relocate overseas. So we will want to come in to support them when they restructure and relocate overseas."
These schemes are part of the latest budget measures to help SMEs restructure and achieve quality growth.
IE Singapore's website will open for applications on 1 April.