by Ariel Tam
SINGAPORE - Citicorp Capital Asia and A.T. Kearney have acquired equity in MyBiz International Ltd to build and implement B2B e-commerce communities for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Asia.
The Development Bank of Singapore (DBS) has also taken a significant stake in MyBiz Singapore, and will be working with MyBiz to build the business e-community in Singapore, and subsequently in other markets in the region.
MyBiz links buyer and seller with a host of services and solutions that typically exist in the brick-and-mortar business environment - partners, customers, suppliers, procurement, accounting, logistics, trade financing, and technology infrastructure.
Targeted to be launched in August 2000, MyBiz Singapore hopes to enable SMEs in Singapore to jump into the digital economy at a low cost, and benefit from the services and outsourced solutions from MyBiz International, Citicorp, A.T. Kearney and DBS.
Cheong Yuk Wai, CEO of MyBiz International, said that the members of the e-community coming on board to MyBiz Singapore will be announced in August.
MyBiz uses a proprietary methodology called Rel@tionet that will create the MyBiz BusinessRelationshipNetwork to build business e-communities in Asia.
Rel@tionet provides SMEs with online trading tools, acts as a source of online intelligence, and offers support services.
"Through Rel@tionet, SMEs will be able to become virtual multinationals, without exposure to soverign risk. They will have all the benefits that MNCs now have, such as access to global markets, technology, partners, resources and trade financing facilities," Cheong said.
Partnership with Citicorp and A.T. Kearney
"Our strategic partnership with Citicorp Capital Asia and A.T. Kearney is a key milestone for MyBiz International because we can now reach their full potential and become a powerful engine for growth," Cheong said.
Citicorp's investment in MyBiz International comes as a cash injection, while A.T.Kearney's investment combines cash and services.
The total funds from Citicorp and A.T. Kearney amount to US$5 million.
Sneah Kar Loon, managing director of Citicorp, said the investment in MyBiz International would allow them to actively participate in Asia's digital economy, as well as open new windows of business to the financial services group.
Ooi Joon Leong, vice president of A.T. Kearney, said that A.T. Kearney would bring its resources to build communities in Asia and provide access to buyer communities in Europe and North America.
Partnership with DBS
Hong Tuck Kun, managing director and head of enterprise banking at DBS, said that the investment in MyBiz Singapore will change traditional banking practices to match needs for the new economy.
"DBS has taken a strategic investment in MyBiz Singapore and will also be a service provider to the MyBiz e-community by providing online trade financing services ... we will make our facilities and services available at the location when and where the business transaction takes place as opposed to waiting for our customers to walk into our branch," Hong said.
MyBiz is the latest addition to DBS' package of e-products designed to gear up local and regional SMEs to compete in the e-business world.
"The launch of MyBiz is the next step in DBS' efforts to help SMEs address the vitally important need of building relationships with local and regional partners in the face of rapid globalisation. This initiative provides further assurance that the burgeoning e-communities' business needs will be fulfilled," Hong added.
MyBiz e-communities to spread across Asia
Explaining the roll-out of MyBiz e-communities in the region, Cheong said that MyBiz International has already developed and implemented the business model in Malaysia, known as MyBiz Malaysia.
Launched in April 1999, MyBiz Malaysia started with 50 SMEs. Today, there are over 300 SMEs from 40 industry segments in the e-community.
Cheong added that he plans to roll out MyBiz over the next six months across the region, in countries such as Thailand, Hong Kong and the Philippines.
"In the digital economy, even a relatively small company can turn into a multinational corporation. Globalisation brings new challenges to Asia and its SMEs, and with MyBiz, we want to help SMEs earn and retain their place in the new economy," Cheong concluded.
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