Given the global pandemic, thinking about internationalization for your business might be a daunting idea in 2021. Venturing into a new market can be both risky and costly even in the best of times.
Fortunately, local companies in Singapore have much to gain with the Market Readiness Assistance Grant (also known as MRA Grant). Businesses that are looking to increase productivity or expand their business overseas are now able to tap into this grant for some financial support.
Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing stated that the Singapore government will be actively pushing out more grants and loan schemes to help businesses adapt to the new realities of doing business. These forms of assistance do vary from industry to industry and other factors like business activity to be done with the fund.
As such, once you have identified your target market of expansion, it is best to engage with a trusted service provider who will be able to guide you step-by-step through the application process of the MRA Grant. Do also ask them about tax incentives your company could enjoy!
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- What is the Market Readiness Assistance Grant?
- Who is Enterprise Singapore?
- What are the eligibility and requirements for the MRA Grant?
- How to Apply for the grant?
- Benefits of applying for the MRA Grant?
- What if I have not yet incorporated my business in Singapore?
- Can I still apply if my company has an existing overseas presence or overseas sales?
- Are there any financial support schemes that my startup may be able to access?
- What business opportunities are there outside Singapore?
What is the Market Readiness Assistance Grant?
The Market Readiness Assistance Grant is Enterprise Singapore’s grant for local, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that are looking to expand globally. This grant helps support locally established businesses with their target new market set-up, outsourcing business development, and market promotion.
Under the MRA Grant, businesses are able to apply for a premium subsidy to include Trade Credit Insurance so as to protect against buyer default.
Initially, the grant only covered 70% of the costs and is not extended till 31 March 2023. But just recently after the Budget 2021, the MRA Grant has been enhanced to cover up to 80% of qualifying costs until 21 March 2022.
Who is Enterprise Singapore?
Enterprise Singapore (ESG) is a government agency promoting enterprise growth by supporting companies to be more productive and internationalise. Not only on a micro-level, but ESG also seeks to grow Singapore to be a hub for startups and international trading.
Their vision to help Singapore businesses be globally competitive is seen in how they help local Singaporean companies leverage global opportunities and build aptitudes. Additionally, ESG works with companies from a variety of industries like Agritech, Food Manufacturing, Healthcare and Biomedical, Retail, and more.
ESG focuses on three pillars to support enterprises’ growth:
- Raise productivity
- Strengthen innovation
- Accelerate internationalisation
“We will work with your company to capture new market share through upgrading and innovation; adoption of new technologies to improve productivity; facilitate expansion into overseas markets; and strengthen leadership capabilities to build a talent pool.”
What are the eligibility and requirements for the MRA Grant?
To be eligible for the MRA Grant, your company needs to fulfil the following criteria:
- Business entity is incorporated or registered in Singapore
- At least 30% of local shareholding
- Group Annual Sales Turnover of not more than S$100 million; or Company's Group Employment Size of not more than 200 employees
- New market entry criteria, i.e. target overseas country whereby the applicant has not exceeded S$100,000 in overseas sales in each of the last three preceding years
The MRA Grant can be used to support the following listed activities:
- Overseas marketing promotion
- Overseas Marketing and Public Relations activities
- Participation in Overseas Physical and Virtual Trade Fairs NOT supported under LEAD International Fairs & Missions (LEAD)
- Overseas business development
- Business matching
- Overseas Marketing Presence (OMP)
- In-market Business Development
- Overseas market set-up
- Market Entry and Market Assessment
- In-depth Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Consultancy
For the full and detailed information showcasing the supportable activities and deliverables, please refer to this link here.
How to Apply for the grant?
Application of the MRA grant can be made on the Singapore Business Grant Portal, which is a one-stop portal for the application for government grants. It is the most convenient method to complete and submit the application.
Your company will have to first be registered under CorpPass Administrator account and upon successful registration, will then have access to the Business Grant Portal.
There are no limits to the number of times you can apply. However, each application should be made to one activity in a single overseas new market.
There are 5 simple steps to apply for the grant:
Step 1: Click on “Get New Grant”
Step 2: Answer some questions about your project
Step 3: Complete and submit the application form
Step 4: Track your application progress through the portal
Step 5: Accept your Letter of Offer
Do take note that:
- Retrospective applications are not accepted; meaning that if your company signed an engagement letter with the third-party consultant, or made the first payment to the third-party consultant, or commenced the project with the third-party consultant, then the application will not be considered
- Submission of applications should be no earlier than six months of the project start date
Benefits of applying for the MRA Grant?
The Market Readiness Assistance Grant offers to fund up to 80% (until 31 March 2023*) of eligible costs when internationalising your business.
The fund is capped at $100,000 per company. The sub-caps are as such:
- $20,000 for overseas market promotion
- $50,000 for overseas business development
- $30,000 market set-up*
*Details may be subject to changes depending on the regulations.
Grants are also helpful for your company when you are venturing overseas into new markets. Governments in other countries are also pushing out more business grants and support for companies to leverage on. You can download an infographic that Enterprise Singapore has prepared on other business grants and funds that they offer now to find out your options.
Business grants like MRA help your business to explore more business opportunities and provide additional capital for your current business plan. This is helpful to strengthen the ecosystem for the growth of your business.
We have also previously written on Internationalisation Fund for Businesses in England and how Cambodia pledges $5m to strengthen tech startups. All to strengthen and increase business opportunities globally. Check here for more business grants that the Singapore government is currently offering to businesses.
Example of MRA Grant calculation
For example, if your overseas business development cost is $50,000. Right now, your company will be eligible for 80%* of funding support (0.80 * $50,000 = $40,000). Therefore, your company will only be required to pay the remaining 20% of the costs (0.20 * $50,000 = $10,000).
*80% of funding support will end on 31 March 2023. Thereafter, the percentage of funding support will be at 70%. However, this may be subjected to changes and information is accurate at the time of publication. Do check against ESG’s website for accuracy of information.
What if I have not yet incorporated my business in Singapore?
The MRA Grant requires that your business be incorporated or registered in Singapore. Hence, to be eligible for this grant, you will need to be compliant with the regulations.
Incorporation of your business in Singapore is a rather straightforward process. In our previous articles, we have listed 5 essential steps to incorporate your business into Singapore.
- Figure out what structure your business needs
- Pick the right company name
- Prepare a registered business address
- Get a resident director
- Get a company secretary
Thereafter, you can start applying for the MRA Grant.
Can I still apply if my company has an existing overseas presence or overseas sales?
Yes, if your annual overseas sales in the country have not exceeded $100,000.
If your company is under the MRA Grant right now, you can continue to benefit from the grant under the enhancement period (until 31 March 2023).
If your company has reached the maximum $100,000 cap of the grant between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2023, then you will not be eligible for the MRA Grant in that new market.
You can check out more of their Frequently Asked Questions here.
Are there any financial support schemes that my startup may be able to access?
The Singapore government has many such incentives and schemes to help early to late startups with upgrading their employee’s skills or expand their opportunities beyond Singapore.
You can check out the Economic Development Board’s (EDB) website here to find out more about such funding opportunities for your business. In a glimpse, there are three main categories:
- Growing Industries
- Innovation, R&D, and Capability Development
Under each category, there are various incentives and schemes for your company to choose from depending on your industry and type of business activity.
Here is a table to expound on the various incentives and schemes under each category.
*Do note that there may be changes from the time this article was published. Do check out EDB’s websites for accurate information on the schemes.
What business opportunities are there outside Singapore?
Business opportunities in Southeast Asian countries are booming, especially in the e-commerce and manufacturing industries. Although ease of doing business in some countries is complex, there’s where finding trusted local service providers to help you with the relevant processes comes into play.
Furthermore, Singapore being seen and known as Asia’s premier regional hub is already a great starting point to think about which country to expand your startup business into. With this title, stepping into the surrounding countries of Singapore like Malaysia and Indonesia would be a lot easier as there is more trust and brand presence.
Unfortunately, the domestic market in Singapore is small. As such, if you are looking to grow more revenue, the expansion of your startup is something worth considering as soon as possible!
Internalisation as part of your business expansion can be scary. Yet, the Singapore government recognizes the importance of SMEs entering the international market.
As such if your business is ready to venture out into new markets, here’s your chance to do so with funded support. One of the most recent ones is also the new tripartite agreement between the Economic Development Board, ESG and private sector partners called the Southeast Asia Manufacturing Alliance (SMA). This was also done to help manufacturers expand into Southeast Asia by promoting a network of industrial parks to be invested in, both in Singapore and the region.
If you have any questions about the above content or about the expansion of your business in the Asia Pacific region, you can reach out to us here. We will be more than happy to help answer your queries.
Want to expand your business out of Singapore?
Greenhouse can connect you to pre-qualified service providers to help you incorporate in Singapore, so that you are eligible for grants like this in Singapore.
Disclaimer: This content is intended for educational purposes only and should not be taken as legal instructions. You should contact consultants in your target markets before making decisions related to incorporation or service execution.
Due to the stricter regulations regarding traveling to Singapore 2021, we advise also visiting Enterprise Singapore’s website for more information about the latest grants’ requirements.