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One of the many reasons why both locals and foreigners register a company in Singapore is because of the government’s business grants and incentives provided to local companies.

In an effort to drive local companies’ internationalisation plans, the government introduced the Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) grant, supported by Enterprise Singapore (ESG). To give clarity to the MRA grant, we have put together the top 10 questions that we usually get from SMEs as MRA consultants.

What is the MRA Grant?

The Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) grant aims to give SMEs in Singapore an international boost to bring the business outside of the country.

With this grant, companies can claim reimbursements on the incurred costs for the qualifying activities when they set up their company overseas.

Companies who have successfully applied the grant will receive up to 70% funding for the eligible costs, capped at S$100,000 per new market. This means that you can tap into multiple jurisdictions at a time.

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What is the eligibility criteria for the MRA grant?

To qualify for the MRA grant, companies must fulfil the following criteria:

  • Incorporated in Singapore

  • Company must meet the new market criteria – this means that the company must not exceed S$100,000 in overseas sales annually in each of the past 3 preceding years

  • At least 30% of local shareholding

  • Group annual sales turnover should not exceed S$100 million; OR Company’s group employment size has to be less than or equal to 200 employees

How does the MRA Grant help my business?

If you fulfil the requirements above, you would want to know how the MRA grant can help your business.

Here are 3 reasons, among many others:

  • Adopting a twinning strategy
    As the pandemic has taught us, never put your eggs into one basket. Diversification of your business presence increases your consumer base, which may in turn drive revenue.

    In the case where you plan to reduce overheads and overall business costs, setting up in an overseas jurisdictions where land and manpower are less cost-competitive than Singapore could be a great start.

    You can read our Singapore-Malaysia twinning strategy forum article here to understand more about this synergy.

  • Low-risk method of testing the waters in overseas jurisdictions
    If you have been thinking of expanding your business outside of Singapore, the grant presents a great opportunity to do so without having to fork up hefty costs for market setup and marketing costs.

  • Establishing a global branding
    By sharing that you have a global presence, it will alleviate your overall branding and achieve a status. Consumers are more likely to go for a brand that has strong presence across multiple jurisdictions as the perception will induce some sort of credibility and trust.

What services can I get covered from the MRA grant?

Under the MRA grant, there are 3 broad categories – each serving a purpose and their eligible costs.

  • Overseas Market Promotion – capped at S$20,000
  • Overseas Business Development – capped at S$50,00

  • Overseas Market Set-Up – capped at S$30,000

For example, for the market set-up, only items like license applications, product registrations, etc. are covered. Items such as retainer fees to maintain the company are not eligible and have to be forked out by the company itself.

Letitia - Business Development

You can download the eligible activities under each category here.

Here is a quick breakdown of the calculation for overseas market set-up:

SERVICES WORTH* $43,000
LESS : MRA GRANT $30,000
Total COST TO BUSINESS $13,000

Assuming the services for market set-up is worth S$43,000 and the government provides the maximum support of S$30,000, the cost to your business will be the difference between the 2 figures. This stands at S$13,000.

Realistically, how much grant can I get?

How much grant that your company can get is very dependent on what you submit to ESG. Every application is evaluated on a case by case basis.

In order to get the maximum amount for the grant, you will need a business plan that justifies a well thought out expansion plan.

On top of that, the quotation items must contribute to your expansion plan and within the scope of work. For example, if you are setting up a company and have intellectual property application fees, you must prove you have real substance for the application.

Letitia - Business Development

How soon can I get reimbursed for the grant?

All claims can only be done once the business expansion project ends and has to be done within 3 months from the project end date.

Companies have to appoint an independent auditor to verify all the expenses and provide the relevant supporting documents. If the company engages an ESG-appointed auditor, you will be granted an audit grant fee, capped at S$500, or 70% of the audit fee.

After the project end date, a typical audit takes 1-2 weeks to complete before you can submit to ESG for claims.

If you use the MRA grant for salary payments of 12 months, you can only claim after 12 months and all salary payments are disbursed.

Can I send directors overseas and claim under the grant?

Yes, you can send directors overseas and claim under the MRA grant. Directors must be under the company’s payroll during the project period to claim their salaries of up to S$50,000.

How long does it take to get the grant approved?

As of July 2022, ESG is experiencing high volume and will take 3-4 months to respond, sometimes up to 6 months. During this time, ESG will revert with additional questions and your MRA consultant will liaise with the officer.

If you were to appoint Paul Hype Page & Co. as your MRA consultant for market set-up, we typically take 1 week to prepare your business plan. Once that is approved by the company, we will prepare to submit the ESG application via the Business Grants portal.

You can expect to kickstart your project 6 months after.

Is the MRA grant difficult to apply?

The business plan is the biggest difficulty as they break every part down for detailed analysis. The quotation you receive may hinder the application if your MRA consultant does not have the experience with grant quotations.

Details like phrasing of service items, title of invoices, and identifying whether certain activities are eligible matters in the quotation.

The application process is relatively easy and is done online through the Business Grant Portal.

Can Singapore PRs apply for the MRA grant?

Yes, Singapore permanent residents (PRs) are considered locals and are able to apply for the MRA grant, fulfilling the 30% local shareholding.

Factors to Consider when Choosing Your MRA Consultants

The MRA consultant that you choose will have a direct impact on your application. Here are some factors that you should look out for and questions you should ask them:

  • Do they have strong testimonials from clients?

  • What are the past completed projects that they have completed?

  • Do they have a local team in the jurisdiction to assist with in-market activities?

Items 1 and 2 are important as these information are required to be submitted along with your application.

For item 3 on local operation team, it is recommended that you engage an MRA consultant that has local presence as they will have a market knowledge and government contacts for seamless operational set-up. This is especially important if you are planning to set-up in a country where their main language is not English.

Paul Hype Page MRA Consultancy

At Paul Hype Page, we have strong experience in helping expats globally to set up companies in Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Japan, and Australia.

Beyond the supporting activities covered under the overseas market set-up, our team is well-equipped to execute end-to-end business solutions from annual compliance to visa applications.

KICKSTART YOUR BUSINESS EXPANSION WITH MRA GRANT TODAY

Get in touch with us virtually or come down to our office for an MRA grant assessment.

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