New agency a ‘one-stop shop’ to help firms grow

Business community cheers merger of Spring and IE S’pore, saying it will add convenience
These days, Singapore entrepreneurs are thinking big: They want to do well locally and also move into overseas markets quickly. So, having one government agency to help local companies meet both goals makes sense.This was the sentiment of the local business community on yesterday’s announcement that Spring Singapore and International Enterprise Singapore (IE Singapore) will merge to form Enterprise Singapore.The merger will take effect in the second quarter of next year.In fact, the Singapore Business Federation said it had for years been calling for one authority to champion the development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the whole of government.

Such a move also reflects the current business climate, with “start- ups and young people who are really trying to go (overseas) to look for opportunities, to actually look for new markets”, said SBF chairman Teo Siong Seng.

Businesses told The Straits Times that the merger would make it more convenient for them when dealing with the Government, and that Enterprise Singapore can give them more holistic advice on both local and foreign expansions.

Announcing the merger yesterday, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran said: “Through Enterprise Singapore, start-ups will not only benefit from the capability development support that Spring has been providing, but they will also be plugged into IE’s international networks.”Said Mr Kurt Wee, president of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises: “If you step into IE, they would work with you on some programmes, and if they find that you have some domestic capabilities that need to be developed, IE would pass you to Spring. Or if you started with Spring, they would hand you over to IE if you wanted to embark on internationalisation. Essentially, you would deal with two agencies.”

Mr Shamir Rahim, president of the Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the new agency would make it “seamless” for his 500 or so members.

He said companies often receive grants from Spring to build up capabilities so they can eventually go overseas with IE Singapore, adding that it would be easier if both were handled by one agency.Mr Shabbir Hassanbhai, director of metal recycling firm Indo Straits Trading Company, said: “The merger means businesses will not have to run around to get things done. I hope this means we can cut down on the steps one goes through to get assistance.”

Enterprise Singapore can take the initiative to help companies locally and overseas, said Mr R. Dhinakaran, president of the Singapore Retailers Association.”The officer in charge can hold the SME’s hand. He can say, ‘Okay, this is a good product. Why don’t you apply for this and that scheme? We will support you in these matters, and why don’t you also expand in this market – we have an office there and they can guide you.’ It is a one-stop shop,” he added.