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Singapore SMEs: Ready for Overseas Expansion with the MRA Grant [Updated]
Viewed by 3,773 Smart Towkays
Article was published on 23 Feb 2023 and updated on 2 Mar 2023
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) form the backbone of Singapore's economy and are a significant contributor to its growth. With the government's push towards globalization, Singapore SMEs are now better positioned than ever to expand their businesses overseas. The MRA (Market Readiness Assistance) Grant, provided by the International Enterprise Singapore, is one such initiative that provides financial support for Singapore SMEs to enhance their market readiness for international market.
In this article, we'll explore the opportunities available for Singapore SMEs to take advantage of the MRA Grant and expand their business overseas.
Read on to know how you can take advantage of the grant and grow your business.
What is the MRA Grant?
The MRA Grant is a financial support initiative offered by IE Singapore to help Singapore SMEs enhance their market readiness for overseas expansion. The grant provides up to 70% funding to companies for eligible expenses, including market research, development of marketing collateral, and participation in overseas exhibitions and missions. The aim of the grant is to assist SMEs in overcoming the challenges associated with entering new overseas markets and to facilitate their market entry and growth.
This grant has been extended until 31 Mar 2025.
MRA Grant's Funding for a Wide Range of Eligible Activities
With the validity of between April 2020 and March 2025, MRA Grant supports any qualifying activities in:
Overseas Market Promotion
With MRA Grant's eligible activities funding of maximum S$20,000, you can participate in trade shows abroad, including space rental and booth design, allowing you to showcase your products or services to a broader audience. Additionally, you can take advantage of the grant's funding for online campaigns and SEO optimization, making it easier for potential customers to find you online.
Overseas Business Development or Partnership
As a business owner, finding the right partners to grow your business can be tough.
However, with MRA Grant's Overseas Business Development support, you can now explore overseas business opportunities through business matching scheme. This scheme covers various types of partnerships, including identifying business partners, joint venture partners, agents, and distributors, to name a few. Imagine being connected to the right people who share your vision and can help you expand your business globally!
With the funding capped at S$50,000, the MRA Grant can help make this happen, and that's not all. The grant's business matching funding can also cover travel expenses, enabling you to meet your potential partners face-to-face and build meaningful relationships.
Essential Tip: In-Market Business Development is one of the qualifying activities under same funding as above.
In-Market Business Development is a business strategy approach for Singapore SMEs to expand their businesses overseas. It involves activities that are conducted in the target market itself such as setting up an office, hiring local talent, recruiting sales partners and distributors, and conducting market research to understand customer preferences. All of these activities are designed to help SMEs gain a better understanding of the local market and build relationships with potential customers.
For example, if a Singapore SME is looking to expand into China, it could set up an office in Shanghai or Beijing and hire local employees who understand the culture and customs of the Chinese people. The business could also recruit sales partners in various Chinese cities who can introduce their products or services to potential customers. Finally, they could conduct market research on customer preferences in order to tailor their offerings accordingly.
In-Market Business Development can also involve attending trade shows and seminars in the country they are targeting, meeting with local government representatives or industry associations, and marketing their products or services online through social media platforms like WeChat and Alibaba. All of these activities would help the SME gain valuable insights into what works best for them in terms of product offerings and pricing structures.
Overseas Market Set-up (capped at S$30,000)
If you're a Singaporean business looking to expand overseas, the MRA Grant can support you in the establishment of your international presence. The grant covers overseas market set-up activities, such as advisory and legal documentation services, allowing you to navigate the international business landscape with ease.
The MRA Grant's overseas market set-up funding is capped at S$30,000, providing you with the necessary resources to build your business overseas. With the support of the grant, you can focus on building your brand and expanding your customer base while leaving the complexities of international business regulations and documentation to the experts.
IE Singapore provides additional guidelines on these qualifying activities, making it easier for businesses to understand and apply for the grant.
You may apply to this grant between April 2020 and March 2023 with such support level of up to 70%.
Starting 1 April 2023, SMEs can receive up to 50% level of support with the enhanced grant cap of up to S$100,000 extended until 31 March 2025.
MRA Grant Eligibility
To be eligible for the MRA Grant, the following criteria must be met:
- The company must be registered and based in Singapore
- The company must be a SME as defined by the SME definition of IE Singapore
- The company must be planning to expand their business overseas
Benefits of the MRA Grant
The MRA Grant provides the following benefits to eligible SMEs:
- Financial support for eligible expenses associated with market readiness activities
- Access to a network of overseas market experts and local partners
- Increased visibility and credibility in the target market
- Opportunities to participate in overseas trade exhibitions and missions
Eligible SMEs that qualify for assistance will be provided with the following support:
- Financial assistance of up to $100,000 is available to companies, covering 70% of eligible expenses for market expansion initiatives such as market promotion (capped at S$20,000), business development (capped at S$50,000) and market set-up (capped at S$30,000) - between April 2020 and March 2023.
- Each application is limited to one supportable activity (e.g. market entry, or participation in a trade fair)
How can your SME apply for the MRA Grant?
The application process for the MRA Grant is straightforward and can be completed online.
- First, you must submit your application through the Business Grants Portal and provide relevant supporting documents, including a detailed project proposal and budget.
- The grant application will then be assessed by the IE Singapore team, and successful applicants will be notified within two to three months of submission with letter of offer after the assessment.
*A Corppass account is required to transact on the portal.
To receive funding under the MRA Grant, you must ensure that you do not make any initial payment or deposit, sign any legally binding agreement, or commence any project before applying.
Once the company receives the letter of offer, they have six months to complete the project and submit their claim for disbursement to IE Singapore. It's important to note that IE Singapore will not consider any retrospective applications.
If you are an applicant, make sure you plan your projects carefully and apply for the grant in advance to avoid any delays or potential loss of funding. By following these guidelines, you can take advantage of the MRA Grant and access the support you need to grow your business internationally.
Key Steps for Successful Overseas Expansion
To maximize the benefits of the MRA Grant and ensure a successful overseas business development activity, you should follow the following steps:
- Conduct thorough market research to understand the target market and identify potential customers
- Develop a comprehensive marketing plan to promote your products or services in the target market
- Build relationships with local partners, distributors, and suppliers to enhance your market presence
- Participate in overseas trade exhibitions and missions to increase visibility and credibility
Did you know there are no compulsory application fees for any of these schemes?
To ensure that your claims are processed quickly and smoothly, be sure to send all claims with relevant supporting documents through the Business Grants Portal within three months from the project end date. This will help verify the expenses and disburse funds on a reimbursement basis.
In addition, Enterprise Singapore offer an audit grant fee for claim process specifically to companies who engage an Enterprise Singapore-appointed auditor to verify their expenses. It's capped at S$500 or 70% of the audit fee - whichever is lower.
So if you're a business owner in Singapore, take advantage of these schemes and achieve your growth ambitions today!
Singapore SMEs are in a prime position to expand overseas with the help of the MRA grant.
With the right planning and strategy, Singapore SMEs can take advantage of this grant to reach out to new markets and become global players. Grab this great opportunity for your SMEs to grow and create more value for yourselves and your stakeholders.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a newly registered company apply for the MRA Grant?
Yes, a newly registered company can apply for the MRA Grant, provided they meet the eligibility criteria and are planning to expand business overseas.
What are the maximum expenses eligible for funding under the MRA Grant?
The maximum funding support provided under the MRA Grant is 70% of eligible costs, with a cap of maximum S$100,000 per project.
How long does it take to receive the grant after the application is submitted?
Successful applicants can expect to receive the grant within two-three months of submitting their application.
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