Local Enterprise and Association Development (LEAD) Programme: Support for Companies Reaching Out To Global Markets

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LEAD programme global outreach

For Singapore companies looking to expand globally, overseas missions and trade fairs are useful platforms to do so. Other than the obvious outreach, enterprises may also obtain feedback on products and services, and explore opportunities in overseas markets.

Trade Associations and Chambers (TACs) frequently organise overseas missions and facilitate local companies’ participation in trade fairs abroad. To help participating SMEs defray part of the costs incurred in joining these overseas missions and trade fairs, TACs can tap on the Local Enterprise and Association Development International Fairs and Missions (LEAD IFM) Programme.

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What is the LEAD IFM programme?

Companies that have participated in the same trade fair no more than three times will receive support of up to 70 percent of eligible expenses. Meanwhile, those which have participated in the same trade fair more than three times will receive support of up to 50 percent of eligible expenses. The counting of participation in trade fairs starts from 1 April 2018.

Eligible expenses include the renting of exhibition space, booth construction, publicity, and consultancy costs.


For Trade Associations and Chambers who are looking to organise a trade fair or mission under the LEAD IFM programme, they must fulfil all of the following criteria:

  • Registered with Registry of Societies (ROS) or Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).

  • Defined as a non-profit organisation. (A TAC will not be eligible for LEAD IFM once it is privatised)

  • Has a secretariat with adequate staff, financial resources, and experience to recruit and organise the proposed activities. TACs which outsource their secretariat service may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

  • The organising TAC is responsible for all expenses related to the activity. The TAC will seek reimbursement for eligible expenses from Enterprise Singapore on behalf of participating companies.

For companies that wish to receive support under the LEAD programme to join a TAC-organised trade fair, they must be registered as a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited partnership, limited liability partnership, exempt private company, private company, or public company in Singapore. They must also have at least three of the following core business functions or activities operating within Singapore:

  • Market development and planning

  • Logistics and shipping management

  • Research, development and design functions

  • Manufacturing and other value-added activity

  • Business and investment planning

  • Banking, financial and treasury functions


It is important to note that LEAD IFM operates on a reimbursement basis, and that companies should not apply for funding directly from Enterprise Singapore.

Instead, it is TACs who must contact Enterprise Singapore to apply for LEAD IFM funding on behalf of the eligible companies participating in its trade fair or mission. Funding will then be disbursed through TACs to said eligible companies. Companies should contact the TAC directly if there are any queries. Enterprise Singapore will not be held responsible to participating companies and vendors in the event of any default on payment by the TACs.

Double Tax Deduction for Internationalisation (DTDi)

In addition, companies can also benefit from the Double Tax Deduction Scheme for Internationalisation (DTDi), which gives them a 200 percent tax deduction on eligible expenses for international market expansion and investment development activities.

However, companies do need to apply to ESG for qualifying expenses under overseas market development trips/missions and investment study trips/missions if they are:

  • Fees paid to secure speaking spots at overseas business/trade conferences to pitch products/services to attendees

  • Logistic costs of transporting materials/samples used during the overseas market development trips/missions and investment study trips/missions

  • Third party consultant cost to arrange business networking events to promote products/services

Lastly, one may only apply for expenses not covered by the LEAD IFM programme (for example, travel and accommodation) for up to two representatives per company.

What LEAD IFM events are there?

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 global pandemic, foreign travel has been significantly curtailed. So it comes as no surprise that there are currently not many events being organised.

There are only two events slated to be held in 2021. One is in Thailand and concerns the manufacturing sector, while the other will be in the Philippines, regarding the automotive industry. Both are planned to take place in November.

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