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19th January 2007

Net-ting foreign markets

Online portal BuySingaporeTM can help businesses go global by matching them with trade leads abroad.

Business expansion is the second most important strategy among SMEs in their early stages of growth, according to a recent survey by DP Information Group. However, while expanding into new overseas markets is an important business strategy, the path can be less than straightforward.

The 2006 SME Development Survey highlighted that companies face many challenges when venturing abroad. Topmost on the list were lack of manpower, overseas knowledge and overseas business contacts.

There is some good news, though, with the recent launch of BuySingapore. Over 100,000 Singapore enterprises now have this new innovative platform to reach out to global export markets, giving them yet another tool in their challenge to remain competitive in a fast-paced global trade environment.

Officially launched in November 2006 by Minister of State for Trade and Industry Lee Yi Shyan, BuySingaporeTM has been billed as the city's single most comprehensive online business matching and trading portal.

The export booster is a national initiative of International Enterprise (IE) Singapore, in collaboration with private sector partner Abecha Pte Ltd. IE Singapore is an agency under the Ministry of Trade and Industry spearheading Singapore's efforts to develop its external economic wing while Abecha, a joint-venture of Sesami, Microsoft and Intraco, is a premier sourcing and procurement service provider.

The e-platform is already generating positive results for one company.

Said Ismail Shariff, chief executive officer of Binari Singapore: "By subscribing to BuySingaporeTM we were able to gain access to overseas buyers, including those from the Middle East countries who are interested in importing our products."

"We were surprised by the speed and efficiency in generating trade leads, given that BuySingaporeTM and our Bali Secret products were newly launched. We are glad and pleased with the positive qualities of the business leads generated from our participation in BuySingaporeTM," he said.

An estimated $10 million will be invested in the BuySingaporeTM initiative by both IE Singapore and Abecha to develop and market the portal over the next five years.

With active participation in overseas trade shows such as the SME tradeshow in Hong Kong, IE Singapore aims to attract 30,000
foreign trade leads annually.

Abecha will oversee areas such as local marketing, customer service and daily operations of the portal while IE Singapore will take the lead in acquiring foreign leads via its global presence in over 30 locations. Through this joint effort, IE Singapore aims to attract 30,000 foreign trade leads annually that will be disseminated through the portal.

BuySingaporeTM aims to facilitate the online business matching of local and foreign enterprises by allowing them to create and view company profiles, trade leads and product catalogues spanning a wide range of industry sectors - from manufacturing to electronics, food and lifestyle products and services.

Another feature includes an auto-matching mechanism where enterprises will be alerted to appropriate matches, allowing local and foreign businesses to make initial connections with each other.

For many Singapore enterprises, exporting will be their first step to internationalisation. With BuySingaporeTM, companies can benefit from the already established Singapore brand name and collective marketing of Singapore's key industries.

"With plans to proactively acquire foreign leads and aggressively market the portal, we aim to establish BuySingaporeTM as the trusted e-platform for overseas companies to procure Singapore products and services," said Chong Lit Cheong, chief executive officer of IE Singapore.

According to Thian Tai Chew, director, enterprise group, at IE Singapore, the BuySingaporeTM initiative is more than just a dotcom portal. Behind the portal front is an active foreign marketing and leads acquisition plan championed by IE Singapore.

IE Singapore's recent participation at the 21st International Autumn Trade Fair 2006 in Dubai from 17 to 20 Dec.

As a start, IE Singapore will be promoting BuySingaporeTM actively in key overseas trade shows and business missions. We will actively acquire foreign leads through our presence in over 30 locations worldwide, engage overseas marketing agents and partner our overseas trade counterparts to ensure that BuySingapore will provide plenty of opportunities for Singapore-based enterprises to connect with international markets," added Mr Thian. Since April last year, BuySingapore began its outreach to foreign companies looking for Singapore business partners through international trade shows like Foodex Japan, Nepcon Shanghai and SIAL 06 in Paris. This year, IE Singapore plans to continue its marketing efforts in key markets and regions such as Asean, North Asia, UAE, India, Germany and Australia."

In Singapore, Abecha is already working with IE Singapore's partners, various trade associations and channel partners such as Yellow Pages, DP Information, Insis and Sesami to market and drive awareness and ensure up-to-date company and industry information.


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