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MRA Grant: Your Ultimate Guide to Market Readiness Assistance Benefits

MRA Grant: Your Ultimate Guide to Market Readiness Assistance Benefits

Are you looking to expand your business internationally but are unsure where to start? The Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) programme provides essential support for starting your international journey. International Enterprise (IE) Singapore, a statutory board in the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MITI) in Singapore, offers the MRA grant that covers overseas market promotion costs and business development expenditure abroad.

In this article, we take you through the application process for the Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) grant, including eligibility and benefits.


Key Takeaways

  • The MRA grant by Enterprise Singapore subsidises 50% of the overseas business development costs of local companies looking to expand their business globally. This overseas market set-up help can amount to S$100,000.
  • Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore benefit from the MRA grant as it supports their business activities overseas market set-up, trade fairs, intellectual property applications, joint ventures and other overseas business functions like marketing.
  • Businesses need at least 30% local equity and be registered and operational in Singapore to get the grant. Apart from this, there are other eligibility criteria like the submission of applications at least 6 months before the start of the project.

Understanding the Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) Grant

Understanding the Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) Grant

Generally, companies can be apprehensive about venturing into new markets, and Singapore businesses are no different. However, Enterprise Singapore has come to their aid with the Market Readiness Assistance grant that makes this transition easier by shouldering some of the financial load.

The grant helps local businesses set up operations abroad and engage in overseas market promotion, such as participating in physical and virtual trade fairs, as well as digital advertising. It covers up to 50% of the cost, capped at S$20,000.

As for business development activities like market research, feasibility studies, and business matching, the grant covers up to 50% of eligible costs, capped at S$50,000.

Regarding overseas market setup, the MRA grant assists with regulatory compliance and helps establish offices and hire in-market staff abroad. It covers up to 50% of eligible costs, capped at S$30,000.

Applicants can only choose one activity in a single overseas market. The Grant acknowledges the multi-faceted challenges of global business expansion and hence offers assistance in a range of activities including in-market business development and utilisation of free trade agreements.


Key Benefits of the MRA Grant for SMEs

The Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) Grant offers several key benefits to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore, helping them to expand their operations internationally and enhance their competitiveness.

  1. Financial Support
    With the MRA grant, businesses can get up to 50% co-funding of the eligible costs capped at S$100,000 per new market for three years. This reduces the financial burden of entering a new market.
  2. Comprehensive Coverage
    The comprehensive nature of the coverage ensures that companies get financial help at various stages of overseas business development including promotion, hiring, establishing offices, market research, and compliance activities.
  3. Market Diversification
    Another critical aspect of this grant is that it helps businesses to diversify their customer base and explore new revenue generation streams as they enter new markets. This ensures enhanced stability and growth opportunities during economic downturns and domestic market saturation.
  4. Capability Building
    The grant facilitates capability building within SMEs by providing access to market research, feasibility studies, and advisory services. This helps companies to better understand foreign market dynamics and make informed decisions, enhancing their strategic planning and execution​
  5. Increased Competitiveness
    International expansion can enhance the brand’s global presence and credibility. By succeeding in new markets, SMEs can increase their competitiveness both locally and globally, leading to long-term business growth and sustainability​

Eligibility Requirements for the MRA Grant

To ensure the MRA grant benefits the intended recipients, Enterprise Singapore has set clear eligibility criteria. A company must be registered and operating in Singapore with at least 30% local equity. Moreover, the company should be making its first foray into the target overseas market or not have exceeded S$100,000 in sales there during any of the previous three years.

Each application must be tied to one specific activity in a single overseas market and should not exceed a 12-month project duration. Additionally, the company should not have over S$100 million in group annual sales turnover and a group employment size of up to 200.

Additionally, an array of documentation such as proof of project deliverables and an audit report must accompany the submission.


Step-by-Step Guide to Applying for the MRA Grant

It is important to go through the MRA application process meticulously to prevent inaccuracies. Here is how you should go about the market readiness assistance grant process to gain proper market entry.

  • Identify Target Market: Choose an overseas market where your sales have not exceeded S$100,000 in the past three years.
  • Select Activity: Decide which specific activity you are applying for under the grant.
  • Prepare Documents: Gather necessary documents like financial statements for the past three years and detailed vendor proposals.
  • Submit Application: Apply via the Business Grants Portal using a Corppass account. The application processing time is typically 8-12 weeks.

Companies should take the help of Enterprise Singapore’s website to navigate the difficult landscape of the grant application.

Additionally, ensure that the:

  • Application is submitted at least six months before the project’s start date.
  • Engagement letters aren’t submitted to consultants before the grant application
  • Payments aren’t made to trade compliance consultants before the grant application.

The last two points lead to the disqualification of the application.

The Business Grants Portal serves as the nucleus for applications, providing a structured and efficient way to manage submissions and required documents. To avoid unnecessary delays, apply through the portal using a CorpPass, and remember to file all claims along with supporting documents within three months of the project support period’s conclusion.


Maximising Your MRA Grant: Best Practices

Securing the MRA grant is just the beginning; the next step is to ensure that every dollar counts. Hence, it is recommended to utilise the grant strategically, concentrating on business activities that resonate with your business objectives in the identified foreign markets. This calls for precise budgeting and planning to cover all the expenses in your market strategy within the grant’s scope.

Monitoring the progress of grant-funded projects is equally important. Regular reviews against the milestones and financials can provide insights into the grant’s effectiveness and reveal when adjustments are needed.

Maintaining a clear understanding of the objectives and anticipated outcomes of each initiative is vital. This clarity allows for effective tracking of progress and measurement of success, ensuring that the MRA Grant contributes to tangible business growth.


Common Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for the MRA Grant

To expedite the application process you must avoid the common pitfalls like submitting retrospective applications as they are not allowed. This means ensuring that the project has not started and that no payments have been made to consultants before the grant application is submitted.

You also need a detailed proposal that provides a comprehensive breakdown of costs and supporting activities like overseas trade fairs, overseas business partners, intellectual property applications and in-market business development plans. If you can add anticipated productivity outcomes of these activities like overseas sales in the application of an MRA grant for a target market, it will enhance your chance of getting approval.

Lastly, ensure that the project scope is not too narrow to meet the grant’s objectives, resulting in a rejected application. Therefore, the project’s scope must align with the MRA grant’s broad objectives of market expansion and business development.


How Consultants Can Help with Your MRA Grant Application

While the MRA grant application process can be intricate, taking the help of company registration consultants like InCorp Asia can simplify it. These consultants ensure that submissions effectively highlight the project’s key aspects.

Selecting the appropriate consultants is as vital as implementing market entry activities, particularly as the grant application necessitates a list of specific documents and compliance with audit requirements.

They also identify the right FTA and regulatory requirements to set up operations in overseas markets. Their expertise can significantly boost the effectiveness of the MRA Grant and ensure a successful market entry.


Important Deadlines and Updates for the MRA Grant

You need to keep up with the latest developments concerning the MRA grant to take full advantage of it. As of 2024, the grant cap has increased from S$70,000 to S$100,000 per new market, enhancing the financial support eligible companies can get from the Singapore government. The grant period has also gone up from 12 months to 18 months, offering more time to execute market entry strategies.

However, bear in mind that the grant support level has been revised from 70% to 50%, indicative of a policy shift to promote greater self-reliance in overseas expansion efforts. These updates are significant and will be in effect until 31 March 2025, a timeline that companies should mark in their calendars as they plan their international market forays.

FAQs about MRA Grant

  • The MRA Grant covers up to 50% of eligible costs for business activities related to overseas market promotion, business development, and market setup, including trade fairs, business matching, import and export licences, and intellectual property applications. The funding is capped at S$100,000 per new market for a particular business entity.
  • Companies registered and operating in Singapore, with at least 30% local equity, and new to the target overseas market or not exceeding S$100,000 in sales in that market in the past three years are eligible to apply for the MRA Grant.
  • You can apply for the MRA grant through the Business Grants Portal using CorpPass. It's important to submit your application at least six months before the project start date and refrain from signing engagement letters or making payments beforehand.
  • Yes, you can use the MRA Grant for projects in a market where you already have a presence, as long as you meet other eligibility criteria like specific activity.
  • Yes, there have been recent updates to the MRA Grant, including an increase in grant cap to S$100,000 per new market, an extension of the grant period to 18 months, and a reduction in support level to 50%, lasting until 31 March 2025.

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About the Author

Eric Chin

Eric Chin is the Group Chief Commercial Officer at InCorp Global, leading sales, marketing and consulting teams in 8 countries. With 11 years of corporate banking experience with HSBC and OCBC, Eric is highly skilled in creating market-entry strategies and structuring operations for diverse industries in the Asia-Pacific. He also advises fund managers and family offices on corporate structuring and tax incentives and has set up VCC structures for licensed fund managers.

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