Singapore SMEs Going Places

Singapore's small and medium enterprises are going places, and popping up in glitzy shopping centres in the region's capital cities.

Although SMEs have, for decades, ventured abroad, they were not normally visible - operating factories in drab industrial estates, tucked out of the way.

SMEs have traditionally gone overseas to set up factories in light manufacturing, garment or food industries, but less so in a consumer sector like food and beverage, said Tan Chor Sen, OCBC Bank executive vice-president, global enterprise banking. "You'd hardly see these (F&B ventures) five or 10 years ago," he said. Many Singapore SMEs are now in the food and beverage sectors in Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Hong Kong and Myanmar, he said.

"They are quite well-known and some are all over," said Mr Tan in an interview to mark the 10th anniversary of the Emerging Enterprise Award.

As part of his portfolio, he oversees the growth and development of cross-border capabilities and business within the region, leveraging on the OCBC network and partner banks in key markets such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar and Greater China.

The Business Times and OCBC Bank are joint organisers of the award which first started in 1998. Into its 10th year, other partners are MasterCard, Acorn Marketing and Research Consultants, Insead, Spring Singapore, Singtel, Maxus and RSM, which is also the official auditor for the awards. "I went to a shopping mall opening in Myanmar and was amazed at the queues in the bakery," said Mr Tan, who travels two weeks a month for work.

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