[Sponsored Report] Seoul Business Agency lends a helping hand

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[Sponsored Report] Seoul Business Agency lends a helping hand

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The Seoul Business Agency offers business education seminars at the Seoul Global Center for foreigners looking to start their own business. [SEOUL BUSINESS AGENCY]

Many foreigners are coming to Seoul to turn their ideas into businesses. For those looking to pursue their dream of entrepreneurship, the Seoul Metropolitan Government and Seoul Business Agency (SBA) operate Global Centers that offer free consultations on patents and taxes, start-up education courses, office space and networking events with local firms.

The SBA, a business support institution for small and medium-size companies, currently operates the Seoul Global Center in Jongno, the Gangnam Global Business Center, Yeouido Global Business Center and Dongdaemun Global Center to support foreigners looking to start their own business or have just started their business for less than a year.

Maria Lee, the founder of Ask Ajumma, is one recipient of assistance from the Global Center. Thanks to the support, Ask Ajumma, a virtual concierge service that makes purchases on behalf of foreigners who have trouble buying goods and services in Korea, was able to grow into a popular service among the expat community.

The Seoul Global Center and Global Business Centers in Gangnam and Yeouido provide “incubation offices” for foreign entrepreneurs. Beneficiaries not only receive office space but also monthly business coaching sessions to help give them direction and successfully establish their own start-ups.

Additionally, they are given priority admission to various business programs held at the Seoul Global Center, such as start-up education programs, business seminars and customized business consultations.

The incubation office is provided for up to six months, during which beneficiaries are exempt from rental and maintenance fees. They can then renew their contract for another six months if the residing start-ups show great business performance during their initial six months.

A total of 126 aspiring entrepreneurs have benefited from the incubation office program since 2010. Among them, 42 have succeeded in establishing their own business during their time in the incubation office, excluding the 15 who had already started their business before moving in.

David Oxenbridge, the New Zealander founder of WorkShed, is currently running his business out of an incubation office in the Yeouido Global Business Center. Although he had a great business idea, with the visa he had then, he needed an investment of at least 100 million won ($85,000) to realize it under the Act of Foreign Investment Promotion.

After his business idea was recognized for its potential and he succeeded in moving into the incubation office, Oxenbridge was able to receive business consultations and start-up education programs to gain the points needed for a start-up visa. “If it wasn’t for the support programs, it would have been really hard for me to launch my business in one year,” he said.

The SBA supports cooperation between the start-up entrepreneurs who reside or have resided in the incubation office and other domestic small and medium-size companies by encouraging them to establish networks with each other.

“Through cooperation with different divisions such as the distribution marketing and start-up divisions at the SBA, we will provide not only office space but also opportunities for domestic and foreign companies to interact with each other and create an environment for mutual growth,” said Moon Jong-hyun, director general of the business development division at the SBA.


BY YANG SE-YOUNG [yang.seyoung@joongang.co.kr]

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