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TDC and 19 business organisations join forces in Powering SMEs

The Trade Development Council (TDC) has teamed up with 19 business organisations to offer a series of special offers to help SARS-impacted SMEs steer ahead during this difficult time.

Initiated by the TDC and supported by 19 business organisations from the banking, airline, logistics and telecom sectors, "Powering SMEs" was launched on May 22 and runs until August 31.

TDC first announced an 8-point plan in the middle of April to help SMEs get orders through different channels and keep in contact with their overseas buyers who shied away from Hong Kong due to SARS concerns. Under the plan, TDC made various discount offers to reduce the burden of SMEs in terms of export marketing costs.

As TDC has learned from industry sources, despite that the SARs outbreak has peaked during April-May, it has dealt a severe blow to the business and export promotion plans of many SMEs because the second quarter is traditionally the key sourcing season of the year. SMEs have to make up for lost opportunities over the next few months.

TDC's Deputy Executive Director Frederick Lam says over the next three months SMEs are likely to spend more on cash flow, logistics and courier, telecommunications, business travel and export marketing services. The joint initiative of TDC and the 19 business organisations are intended to relieve SMEs of their financial burden during this critical time.

"The present campaign has been organised within a very short time thanks to the enthusiastic and rapid response of the supporting organisations which have put together a wide range of SME-focused practical services and discounts. It amply demonstrates the spirit of solidarity of the local business community.

"We hope more organisations will follow suit and offer support programmes to help SMEs succeed. These efforts can go a long way for Hong Kong's exports and economic recovery in the second half of this year."

Supporting organisations offering initiatives to SMEs fall under five categories:

Cash flow: Seven banking and finance institutions offer various initiatives such as discount/waiver of loan application fee and preferential interest rate. They are: Bank of China (Hong Kong), Hang Seng Bank, SMELoan Hong Kong, Bank of East Asia, Standard Chartered Bank, HSBC and SME Finance.

Logistics and courier: In view of SMEs' strong demand for sending samplesm and documents to overseas customers, four service providers, namely DHL, Hongkong Post, TNT Express Worldwide (HK), UPS and FedEx offer discounts for courier and bulk services.

Telecommunications: In view of SMEs' increased demand for reaching their overseas customers frequently by long distance call, videoconferencing and broadband connection, four telecom operators, namely Hutchison Global Communications, New World Telecom, PCCW, Wharf T&T, offer discounts in these services to help alleviate SMEs' burden.

Business Travel: Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong Dragon Airlines offer special incentives and airfare discounts.

Export Marketing: To give marketing support to SMEs, TDC offers free web conferencing facility, virtual exhibition, 50% discount in trade publications and online advertising, free buyers' info, online catalogue show and discounts in local fair participation fee.

Yahoo! Hong Kong is the online promotion partner of this campaign.

"SMEs especially those in the manufacturing and export business should lose no time in taking advantage of these initiatives and make up for lost opportunities," said Mr. Lam.

Interested SMEs may call the TDC customer service hotline at 1830 668 or contact the respective supporting organisations direct for more details.

TDC and the 19 supporting organisations will be exhibiting details of their initiatives at the SME Market Day organised by the TDC on June 5-7 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The full list of practical initiatives offered by TDC and the supporting organisations is at http://www.tdctrade.com/projectsmes/

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For press enquiries, please contact Lawrence Yau of TDC's Corporate Communication and Marketing Department at 2584 4510.

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Content provided by Hong Kong Trade Development Council