Indian startups are literally going places today. Anil Advani from Inventus Law spoke to an enthusiatic crowd at Yourstory’s office recently on setting up US operations.
Singapore is the other ‘go to place’ for several Indian startups. Couple of weeks back, at the Singapore Walkabout, we met many expat startups that viewed Singapore as a favorable location to set up their businesses. We spoke to many of them over the last few months, asking: how they are able to manage it all so seamlessly in an alien country. What makes Singapore tick? How do you go about it?
Based on these conversations, here’s the Guide to Starting up in Singapore. What you read here is a birds eye view for all Indian startups, aspiring to set up Singapore operations.
Ease of operation ranks highest in this list (Singapore is one of the most politically stable economies, almost zero rate of corruption). Other tangible benefits include:
Strategic location: Situated in the heart of Southeast Asia, Singapore works as a perfect hub to access the South East Asian markets. It’s difficult to enter markets like Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Philippines without a Singapore set up, which helps ease issues like language constraints and cultural habits of people and businesses in those countries.
Virat Khutal from Twist Mobile, who have an office in Singapore, says, “Talent in art and game design, is hard to find in India. Singapore is the right approach for Indian companies thinking of going global. With countries like Malaysia and Thailand on one side and Vietnam and Indonesia on the other, Singapore gives exposure to a diverse region”. He refers to Singapore as ‘the right mix of developed and developing market access’.
Government aid: Several government outfits support enterprises in Singapore.
Taxation: While corporate taxes in Singapore range from 9% (for the first S$300,000 annual profits) to a maximum of 17%, individual tax rates in Singapore are capped at a maximum of 20%. There are no capital gains or dividend taxes in Singapore. Also, companies headquartered in Singapore can benefit from their 70 comprehensive Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements.
IP laws: According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013, Singapore has the best IP protection in Asia, and the second best in the world. In 2009, the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) set up its first Asian regional office in Singapore. This pro-IP stance, makes Singapore an attractive market for setting up offices for several tech and pharma companies, among others.
Entrepreneurship environment: Accelerators such as JFDI, collaborative community space of entrepreneurs Plugin@Blk71, which is an initiative of the National University of Singapore Entrepreneurship Center, and co-working spaces like the HUB, nurture entrepreneurship in Singapore, encourage foreigners to build and pursue opportunities in Singapore.
The big question: How?
Foreign entities can set up a subsidiary, a branch office or a representative office in Singapore. It is also fairly easy for an individual living in India to set up a new company in Singapore.
Visa: The first step for a foreigner who wants to work in Singapore is to obtain a visa. In order to facilitate the entry of entrepreneurs looking at starting up and operating a company in Singapore, the Singapore Government launched the EntrePass scheme in 2004. The EntrePass is a multiple entry visa, with an initial validity period of up to two years (and renewable), which is issued upon the submission of a sound business proposal.
The Ministry of Manpower of Singapore, lists down certain eligibility criteria and the process here.
Establishing a company, branch or representative office
Singapore allows for 100% foreign ownership of the locally-incorporated companies.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article is for information purposes only, and is not meant to be legal advice. Please consult a legal advisor for any queries that you may have