E-Commerce Incentives for small firms

(Source: Bangkok Post)trackingBy Suchit Leesa-nguansuk, Bangkok Post, Thailand

June 24–Local small and medium-sized software operators are being encouraged to expand into e-commerce with the help of new business loans and support from two state agencies responsible for the software business.

The Software Industry Promotion Agency (SIPA) and Software Park Thailand aim to expand the value of the local software and IT service industries to 200 billion baht within five years from an estimated 140 billion this year.

SIPA chairman Supachai Tangwongsan said the country’s information and communication technology (ICT) industry was growing by an average of 12% a year and was forecast to be worth 1 trillion baht by 2016, up from 678 billion this year.

The SIPA is working with the SME Bank to provide loans for small software startup companies. The agency has set up a committee to verify their market potential and technology while the bank will screen financial capability.

The maximum loan is 500,000 baht per company with no collateral requirement. The maximum repayment term is seven years with annual internet at 7%, and a one-year grace period.

Dr Supachai said both software and digital content companies could seek the loans for business expansion. As well, SMEs that want to buy locally produced software or develop digital content to increase productivity and reduce costs could also seek loans.

Interested applicants can register online at http://sme.sipa.or.th/.

He said the SIPA had so far offered financial support to 84 projects worth 58 million baht to both new entrepreneurs and leading software and digital content firms. More than 100 are on the waiting list.

Thanachart Numnonda, the director of Software Park Thailand, said the agency was working with Thaiware Communication to set up a website to build an e-marketplace for local software firms at www.thaisoftwaremarket.com.

The free portal is designed to help small software firms shift away from traditional physical packaging to sell their products online. This would extend their market reach both locally and abroad.

“We aim to make the site the country’s app store, offering not only PC downloads but also mobile applications using in smartphone and tablet devices,” said Dr Thanachart.

Thanop Somprasong, co-founder of Thaiware Communication, said around 100 software companies and 300 applications including inventory, business management and educational instruction would available on the portal.