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Aquarii introduces Market Readiness Assistance service to help Singapore SMEs access Cambodian market

Tom Starkey

AquariiBD Cambodia, an in-market consultancy on Cambodia recognized by Enterprise Singapore (ESG) to enable business and investment in the Kingdom, has provided greater clarity on ESG’s Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) grant to help Singaporean SMEs expand their operations to Cambodia.

The MRA grant, which is designed to deliver a financial boost to small and medium-sized companies from Singapore for overseas expansion, has not been utilized by many businesses in Cambodia, with some reporting unpleasant experiences working through certain consultancies offering the facilitation.

CEO of Aquarii Mr. Michael Tan said that’s where Aquarii, which is quickly establishing itself as a trusted brand that leverages its network of carefully curated service partners and contacts, aim to help bridge and make a difference.

Read more: Aquarii BD marks its 1st year with plans for platform refresh and expansion

“We endeavor to make a difference in helping SMEs, from Singapore and elsewhere, to establish themselves in Cambodia so that they can be successful. In doing so, we hope it will help create greater awareness of the true potential and genuine opportunities here,” Michael said.

“Eligible Singaporean companies should look at taking advantage of the MRA grant given the exciting opportunities which the Cambodian market presents for foreign businesses,” he added.

Advisory and facilitation services

The MRA service will see Aquarii combine its advisory and facilitation services for businesses looking to set up their operations in Cambodia with a detailed understanding of MRA, to deliver a full service which boasts deliverables across its three key components – Overseas Market Promotion (OMP), Overseas Business Development (OBD) and Overseas Market Set-up – which the grant caps at $20,000, $50,000 and $30,000 respectively.

Non-Singaporean businesses, such as Aquarii’s recent client from Thailand, can also tap on its service offerings, albeit they will not be eligible for the MRA grant.

Read more: Encouraging foreign talent will play a key role in the post-pandemic growth of Cambodia

Mr. Tan added:­ “our service is designed to offer fresh and honest input on MRA grant applications, as well as full application and facilitation services where needed, to ultimately help Singapore SMEs defray the costs of setting up their businesses in the Kingdom.”

Aquarii BD Cambodia Founder and CEO Michel Tan and Dr. Chhieng Vanmunin CEO of Khmer Enterprise..

“Having gone through the MRA application process and utilization of the grant components, we are able to guide Singapore SMEs in how the relevant components of the grant can be applied for, and utilized appropriately so that their operations can be set up efficiently and how the costs of their market entry setup and activities can be defrayed by the grant,” he added.

One of the leading SME and start-up ecosystem builders in Cambodia – Khmer Enterprise – said it has the vision to become the national platform for promoting entrepreneurial activities in the four priority sectors: ICT focuses on tech start-up, service focuses on hospitality and logistics, agriculture focuses on agro-processing for domestic consumption and agriculture for export, and manufacturing focuses on import substitution.

Aquarii BD Cambodia and Khmer Enterprise have a key joint commitment will be to help address any outdated perception of Cambodia and lower the trust deficit that foreign businesses and investors may have of the country by raising awareness of Cambodia’s pro-business and pro-investment policies.

Overseas Market Promotion services

A representative of Aquarii added further on the deliverables of their MRA service.

“For OMP, we provide all things marketing, including engaging media, creating virtual and physical trade fairs, designing marketing strategies, product launch promotions and more. For OBD, we specialize in arranging business meetings, finding office space, sourcing HR partners, contacts and resources while providing consultancy updates of market progress and outcomes,” they said.

Read more: Cambodia’s strong multinational business community unites at flagship Inter-Chamber networking event

“Finally, for OMP we offer full business registration, covering everything from all ministry and governmental organization registration but also any related permits and licenses, as well as assistance on tax structure, eligibilities, franchise set-up, distribution, joint ventures, contracts and all other business activities under the laws of Cambodia,” they added,

For those that look for consultancy on government relations as part of their in-country operational priorities, Aquarii is also well suited to fulfil that role, and in fact is already on service contracts to several international clients which due to commercial confidentiality, it is not able to divulge who they might be.

Aquarii BD (Cambodia) by-invitation-only business networking event for its partners and friends at the Prince Brewing, a craft beer microbrewery in Phnom Penh. The event was supported and sponsored by Prince Brewing and Khmer Enterprise.

Cambodia’s only Singapore-owned commercial bank, Phillip Bank PLC – as part of its robust strategy to provide financial solutions to every Cambodian, also supports the full range of Cambodian entrepreneurs, including products catering to Small & Medium-size Enterprises (SMEs).

The bank believes this newly developing sector plays an increasingly important role in the growth of the Cambodian economy. Because of this, Phillip Bank sees great opportunities to strengthen and support the dynamic growth of SMEs in addition to its existing expertise and services to retail, corporate and micro-enterprise customers.

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