All about the Singapore MRA Grant (Market Readiness Assistance)
Everything You Need to Know about the Singapore MRA Grant (Market Readiness Assistance)
- Singapore’s Market Readiness Assistance Grant has increased its funding threshold from 50 per cent to 70 per cent, as of April 2015.
- Funding through the MRA is still capped at S$20,000 per fiscal year (April 1 to March 31).
- Eligible SMEs need to be headquartered in Singapore and have a per annum turnover of under S$100 million.
You own and operate an SME (small or medium enterprise) in Singapore. You don’t need us to tell you that this is a small market. Luckily, though, it is situated in a region with a lot of economic potential. Southeast Asia is a hotbed of rapidly accelerating economies: aside from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia have all been pulling their weight recently, especially in the digital economy department.
This is where Singapore’s International Enterprise (IE) agency steps in, to help both budding start-ups and established businesses expand overseas. This has always been a welcome kind of initiative on the business scene—accessing government funding, as to defray a business abroad. And Singapore’s MRA has been particularly successful and popular over the past few years. What’s more, starting with April 1, 2015, the program has actually been improved, as to award more benefits to aspiring global SME managers.
Image source: IESingapore.gov.sg
Without further ado, here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the IE’s Market Readiness Assistance Grant answered. Make sure you put the information to good use.
What is the actual definition of the MRA?
The government funded program provides businesses who want to expand abroad with information and aid in three main categories:
- Financial Assistance – This is the main area you’re interested in since it’s the one where the money comes in. This chapter covers several types of expenses for companies seeking to develop new branches abroad. They receive financing, taxation rebates, and cost coverage for industry-related events. You can find out all the details on the program’s official website.
How much of my costs can I cover via the MRA?
The funding cap for the MRA has just been expanded from 50 to 70 percent of all the activities which are eligible. Since we’re a digital marketing agency, which seeks to provide its clients, both prospective and current, with the most topical information, we’ve drawn up a list of non-exhaustive activities which the program covers:
- SEM (search engine marketing). This category includes any and all related initiatives, including SEO and PPC campaigns.
- Web-based advertising. Once again, this refers to any activity in the field that you can fathom, including social media ad campaigns, AdWords, PPC, banners, affiliation, etc.
- Marketing for social media. Social media mar-comm is supported via the MRA of late, irrespective of whether this refers to marketing, PR, or anything in between.
- Global e-commerce directory listings. Increasing brand visibility via listings on international directories is also supported through the MRA.
Audience attending visitors’ program at the Singapore Gifts and Premiums Fair, an iMAP (International Marketing Activities Programme) event, promoted by IE
Image source: SGPFair.com
Online marketing has been introduced as a new chapter of activities eligible for financing, starting with April 1. At the time, the list also expanded to include several other promotional efforts abroad, including all types of marketing and PR. It’s important to note that financing is capped at S$20,000 per fiscal year, i.e. from April 1 this year till March 31 the coming year. Remember that if you’ve been approved an MRA grant, you won’t be able to apply for the Double Tax Deduction benefit for those very same costs.
How do I apply for the MRA?
The application process is simple enough and it all begins here, where you download the official application form. Bear in mind that the number of applications per fiscal year is limited to two. Fill in the form, whose fields are all mandatory.
The grant program allows you to outsource several activities to an expert third-party. As such, you will need to make a formal request for a cost quote and a plan/activity reports, from your service provider of choice. There is no limiting list of government or IE-approved providers. The only prerequisite in this respect is that you exercise due diligence before naming any consultant or agency in charge with your project.
Once you’ve filled in the form and also annexed the quotation and other required documentation from the service provider, you can file the application with the IE. You will need to submit an audit report, as well as a marketing plan to the agency.
At this point, before actually embarking on your overseas expansion plan, you’ll need to wait for the IE to make you an offer via a formal letter. Once you’ve received the Letter of Offer from the agency, your plan has been green-lighted. Complete it in the given frame of time, then return to the IE with a full set of program deployment reports, and a claim for funding. Bear in mind that you have 6 months tops to complete the project. When filing for the claim, also remember to attach reports detailing the completion of the plan.
How do I know if I’m eligible for the MRA?
There are only twos simple criteria for eligibility with the MRA:
- Your SME needs to be headquartered in Singapore.
- Eligible companies have a yearly turnover of less than S$100 million. In order to prove this, you need to submit an audit report to the IE.
The IE government agency will grant funding to an online shop based in Singapore, which seeks to distribute its products across the border, and needs to promote its brand in order to do so. Companies that offer cloud services on the global are also eligible. However, if you’re a local business that wants to promote its products or services to foreign clients (but provides the services locally, like a restaurant or a hotel would), you are not eligible for the grant. The point to this source of financing is to provide money to Singaporean businesses that seek to grow their brand abroad, thereby advancing the country’s economy and presence in the area.
How do I know if my project receives funding?
The IE will inform you via their Letter of Offer. Be aware that the agency does not approve retrospective applications. This means that you can only debut the project after the IE has given it the green light. Applying with a project that has already commenced will be regarded as backdating; backdated plans are automatically disqualified.
Another important point to note is that the agency grants funding both to companies owned by sole proprietors, as well as to joint ventures with several partners involved. Once the grant has been approved, you’ll receive the money directly into your company’s bank account.