As the world’s economic center of gravity shifts eastward, there is a growing number of individuals in South East Asia who are now incline to start a business venture. Whether it is to have an independent living or for turning a hobby into profitable activity, starting your own business is not impossible.

But starting up your own company is not an easy endeavor. One initial challenges are capital. Unless you are backed by a powerful conglomerate, most people start businesses with a really small (if not zero) capital.

Singapore, one of the most business-friendly countries in South East Asia, understands this challenge and is providing a vast array of funding opportunities to assist small and medium companies in realizing their business dream. Here is a review of some representative funding grants that are available in Singapore.

SPRING grants

An agency under Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry, SPRING aims to support various businesses in Singapore including small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

The Capability Development Grant (CDG) provided by SPRING could cover funding for several key areas including brand and marketing strategy development, financial management, technology innovation, and human capital development. With this grant, SMEs could receive assistance up to 70% of their “qualifying project costs.” Businesses that are eligible to apply for the CDG are Singapore-based SMEs with local share of 30% or more, has a yearly turnover of SGD$ 100 million or less, and employs 200 people or less.

International Enterprise (IE) Singapore

IE Singapore is a government body that focuses on “promoting international trade and partnering Singapore companies in going global.”

Several assistances that are provided to SMEs in Singapore include the Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) grant and Global Company Partnership program for SMEs.

Companies with a global headquarters located in Singapore and annual turnover of less than S$ 100 million are eligible for the MRA grant. Through this grant, companies could receive up to 70% (capped at SGD$ 20,000) to cover various costs that include overseas market setup, identification of business partners and overseas market promotion.

Meanwhile, IE Singapore, under its Global Company Partnership Programmes, provide several grant assistances for SMEs to expand into the emerging markets. The programs include funding supports for capacity building, market access, and manpower development, in addition to access to loans and capitals. In addition, the Local Enterprise and Association Development (LEAD) program, a cooperation between SPRING and IE Singapore could help bigger companies in partnering with local SMEs.

Singapore Business Federation

The Singapore Business Federation was appointed by SPRING Singapore to run the Partnerships for Capability Transformation (PACT) program. The program aims to promote collaboration between SMEs and large organizations, which include multinational companies, universities and government agencies.

Some of the benefits that are associated with the PACT program includes the opportunity to upgrade capabilities in improving productivity, to encourage knowledge transfer to SMEs, as well as to develop and test innovative products.

Going for the ‘beachhead’

Another take home message is that with these grants SMEs could first aim to tackle their ‘beachhead’ market, a smaller yet more reliable niche market that could help generate initial profits.

Having said that however, taking on the beachhead market is also not an easy job. SMEs could find several challenges eespecially if one is to emphasize on marketing and brand building activities, which could be really expensive.

It is through these grants in Singapore that they could overcome some of these initial funding issues, while at the same time elevate their business into the emerging markets. Nonetheless, as different grants provide different funding opportunities, with differing terms and conditions, it would be wise to also go to the respective grant provider’s official website to learn more about these grants.