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Google launches initiative to help S’pore SMEs sell wares overseas

SINGAPORE — United States technology giant Google today (Nov 26) launched Go Global, an industry initiative to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore go online to sell their goods and services overseas.

Google launches initiative to help S’pore SMEs sell wares overseas

From left to right: Mr Ang Ser-Keng, Director of UOB-SMU Asian Enterprise Institute, Mr Mervyn Koh, Head of Business Banking, Singapore, United Overseas Bank, Mr Michael Lam, Head of Singapore Ecosystem and SME, Singapore Post, Ms Teresa Wong, Head of Marketing Asia Pacific, CyberSource, Mr Nicholas Goh, CEO, Verztec Consulting Pte Ltd, Mr Patrick Ang, Deputy Managing Partner and Head, Regional Practices, Rajah & Tann Singapore, Ms Joanna Flint, Country Director, Google, Singapore, Mr Paul Lee, Managing Partner, RSM. Photo: Hardasmalani Rumi

SINGAPORE — United States technology giant Google today (Nov 26) launched Go Global, an industry initiative to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore go online to sell their goods and services overseas.

Launched in collaboration with enterprise development agency SPRING Singapore and trade development agency International Enterprise Singapore, the initiative includes a new website that will allow SMEs to access a wide range of resources — including business tips from industry experts — on optimising e-payments, digital marketing, feasibility studies, as well as international financial, legal and tax processes. 

Last year, about 60 per cent of the global Internet population either conducted research or made a purchase online, said Ms Joanna Flint, Google’s Singapore country director. 

“This makes the Web an ideal platform for businesses looking to export their goods and services, while keeping costs down. We hope to help local SMEs build their business capabilities, promote international exports and grow to be globally competitive companies,” she said.

“Digitalisation breaks down geographical boundaries and brings customers and sellers closer. Companies who take advantage of digital technologies are able to stay relevant and stay ahead of the competition,” said Mr Tan Soon Kim, assistant chief executive of IE Singapore.

Google, supported by other partners including United Overseas Bank (UOB), Singapore Post, CyberSource, law firm Rajah & Tann Singapore, business consultancy RSM and UOB-SMU Asian Enterprise Institute, will reach out to about 100 SMEs initially under the programme.

UOB said it has seen an increased number of its small business customers expanding overseas. To date, about 50 per cent of its small business customers have revenue from overseas, the bank said.

Mr Mervyn Koh, UOB’s head of Business Banking in Singapore, said: “As the region becomes more economically integrated, many of our small-business customers are looking to expand across borders, despite challenges such as limited resources and increased competition. As part of the Go Global initiative, UOB will help small businesses be more effective and efficient by giving them better access to cross-border business information and financial solutions.”

Exports traditionally have been an option for larger companies looking to grow, as they deploy spare capital to make long-term investments in overseas offices and international distribution networks. Faced with limited resources, smaller businesses have struggled to get their businesses export-ready.

Ms Kee Ai Nah, SPRING Singapore’s group director for Industry and Enterprise Development, said the initiative offers a platform for SMEs to be more digitally savvy in preparation for business expansion. 

Mr Michael Lam, head of Singapore Ecosystem and SME at Singapore Post, said his team will help build an ecosystem for local businesses to grow on the global stage.

According to the Department of Statistics, total trade last year amounted to S$982.7 billion, with total exports totalling S$518.9 billion. SMEs account for 99 per cent of enterprises in Singapore and  contribute to almost half of gross domestic product.  

“We live in a borderless world where transactions across geographical boundaries can be made with just a click of a button. An online presence is no longer a luxury but a necessity … For our homegrown businesses to scale up, especially in a small and highly competitive local market, the fast and low-cost way to open their doors to more opportunities is to go global online,” said Mr Paul Lee, managing partner, RSM.

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