Here’s an interesting feature about the trials and challenges of Singaporean small businesses expanding into Africa. International Enterprise Singapore (IE Singapore) estimates the number of Singapore-based SMEs venturing overseas expanded by 30% in 2010 over the previous year, based on the 3,701 companies it assisted with S$1.477 billion (US$1.14 billion) in grants and loan financing in the first half of the year.

Africa remained a place only for the brave and well prepared, however. Singapore SMEs reported frequent difficulties and unpleasant surprises with Africa’s infrastructure inadequacies, high transport costs and intermittent power supply. There was also the realization (often felt by outsiders) that Africa is indeed 53 separate countries, and no single strategy will work across the entire continent.

The Singapore Business Federation (SBF) started their Africa business group and has launched the Africa-Singapore Business Forum, facilitating visits between the two regions to build better understanding of each party’s needs. Africa represented a great opportunity and brand new markets for Singaporean companies, especially in construction, energy, urban and infrastructure development. But they also needed to understand exactly what unique challenges they would face once there. Management consultants BDO Consulting recommended a thorough feasibility study of product suitability, competition and cashflow before taking the plunge.

source & article: Channel NewsAsia