|▲ Korea SMEs and Startups Agency / Director Moosuk Chae|
Guess where the busiest Seoul subway station was in the morning rush hour in the year 2018? Gangnam? It was Gasan Digital Complex (G Valley). Gangnam was the 5th. The Gasan Digital Complex is embracing around 6,700 small and medium enterprises and 30.7% are IT related. For this reason, industry experts voice together that the G Valley will be a cradle of the 4th Industrial Revolution in South Korea.
Recognizing its importance, the Seoul headquarters of the Korea SMEs and Startups Agency (KSSA) relocated its office in the complex in August 2018 covering its services to 7 districts: Ganseo, Guro, Gwanak, Geumcheon, Dongjak, Yangcheon and Yeongdeungpo.
Moosuk Chae, Director of the KSSA Seoul, took the steering wheel in July 2019. Chae joined the KSSA in March 1989 and served as the director of South Cheongchung, North Cheongchung, South Jeolla and North Gyeonggi, boasting 30 years of devotion and expertise in backing up Korean SMEs for financing, information, consulting, marketing, exchange and many more.
Around 200 billion won ($169 million) is being supported to around 1,000 enterprises a year and the companies which need urgent support is provided along with 12 of experienced staff called ‘ambulance men’. The urgent fund is given within a week at 2.15% interest rate without securities such as real estate.
“I always think of what are the things SMEs are most in need? There might be many things as companies vary according to their type of business. But one thing applies to all and it is ‘preparation’. The KSSA Seoul has always focused on this. For example, we released fund to enterprises most severely hit by COVID-19” says Chae.
“Most SMEs have technologies but they are struggling when it comes to marketing and channels to sell. In other words, brining up effective marketing strategies and securing channels to their products are as important as financing.”
The KSSA Seoul links excellent products of SMEs to department stores and home shopping as well as the 21 business centers in the world including the US. Those who are eligible for the export voucher project are given up to 100 million won ($84,388) marketing subsidy.
Also, training for management knowhow is given at the Korea SMEs Training Institute, and the Seoul Young Startups Academy. Around 135 future CEOs are being fostered every year at the academy. Promising startups are given 100 million won startup subsidy with further support for marketing, consulting and manpower. As a result, 78% of the graduates of the academy survived for the next 5 years. It is higher rate than ventures.
Chae is keeping an eye on ironworks in Mullae-dong, Yeongdeungpo District as one of the highly plausible smart factory complexes in the city. Chae reckons that there are many hidden masters in the field of ironworks whose experience expands from at least 30 to 40 years. His plan is to make most of their skills to turn the area as a high value added smart factory.
“SMEs are the roots of our industry and the growth of national economy. I and all specialists at the KSSA Seoul will keep doing our very best to support, promote and grow South Korea SMEs as global companies over Korea.”
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