Successful contracts with Sands China have paved the way for a micro company to access larger amounts of credit from local banks, allowing the firm to accept more projects from local clients.
VastCom Technology is an IT solutions company that opened in 2010 aiming to provide IT products, services and solutions to local businesses.
The company also outsources their employees to clients such as integrated resorts for up to two months.
Seeing potential for these kinds of IT services in Macau, Crystal Ieong, general manager of VastCom Technology, founded the business together with a partner.
Although there were some large IT companies in the region back then, Ieong recalled that there were several competitors in the micro and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) category.
Yet due to the lack of human resources, particularly in the IT industry, Ieong admitted that acquiring high-tech engineers was problematic, adding that cash flow was also a major issue.
“So when getting large deals from those casinos and international corporations, we need to have some support from banks and other financial institutions [and] that is one of the difficulties for us,” Ieong noted.
Accessing credit from local banks remains a challenge for micro companies, particularly if the firm fails to ensure its return on investment.
The general manager admitted that banks have refused their application for loans, yet their collaboration with Sands China has turned things around.
“So after we dealt with Sands China, we had those projects and contracts in hand and we used them to show to the bank we had on-going projects. So they approved [the loan application],” said Ieong.
Ieong revealed that she currently has one labor import quota available, which would allow her to employ a foreign worker. Yet she refused to take one on board as she mentioned that the employment of local workers remains a priority for the firm – just as Sands China supports local young entrepreneurs and made-in-Macau products.
VastCom started its collaboration with the gaming operator in 2014 and is providing after-sales support to its clients.
From minor transactions to extensive ones, the firm has kept its relationship with Sands China growing, noting that its sales volume to them has tripled.
In 2014, the micro company provided hardware to Sands China on a competitive basis.
VastCom was also encouraged to participate in the SME program initiated by Sands China which gave the firm access to further cooperate with the large company.
After a year of collaboration with the gaming operator, Ieong affirmed, “they [the bank] have approved more credit amount for us [as our] contract with Sands [showed we] have higher credibility,” she said.
Although the 10-employee firm is facing a human resource setback, Sands China has also offered support in terms of assisting them in its service provision.
Supporting the growth of local enterprises has remained a key focus for Sands China.
With the gaming operator’s support for the local government’s initiative to “buy local,” Sands China has demonstrated its commitment to supporting enterprises in the region as part of its corporate social responsibility program.
Sands China views local enterprises as its strategic partners, and Ieong is confident in its continuous support of her small firm.
“In the past three years, our business with Sands China had tripled [and] we’d like to keep on doing business with them,” Ieong reiterated.
The general manager also mentioned that Sands Supplier Excellence Awards, held annually, inspires micro-firms and its fellow SMEs, and has been encouraging firms to provide outstanding services and cooperation with the gaming operator.
As the awards are a global initiative of Sands China’s parent company, Las Vegas Sands Corp, Ieong implied that such awards would be beneficial to the company’s ongoing growth and success.
Ieong agreed that Sands China’s procurement from not only large companies but of SMEs and micro-firms have boosted creative partnership opportunities and growth of Macau companies.
Just recently, Sands China has again launched another scheme to support local SME suppliers called the “F.I.T.” program.
The program aims to continually drive business between the gaming operator and its suppliers, targeting both new and existing relationships with Sands China.
F.I.T. is comprised of three pillars: Financial Support, Invitational Matching, and Training and Development.
The Sands China Young Entrepreneur Advance Payment Program is being created to help local young entrepreneurs with limited financial capacity run their businesses. Its target is local young entrepreneurs with a staff of 15 or less, prepaying them 30 percent of contracted purchase orders.
In a bid to broaden local SMEs contacts beyond potential Sands China buyers, the gaming operator is hosting targeted trade shows.
These invitational matching sessions, starting last month, provide a platform for local SMEs to present and demonstrate their products and services to potential users and buyers at Sands China properties with the company’s complete support.
Through this platform, not only would communication between vendors and users be enhanced but the procurement success rate would improve – allowing local SMEs to further expand their product and service offerings.
Meanwhile the new Sands China Procurement Academy aims to develop local SME suppliers by sharing business knowledge and skills, helping them gain experience and capacity for working with large international customers like Sands China. It will provide tailor-made practical training modules to local SMEs, presenting them with a certificate upon graduating from the academy.
This article is sponsored by Sands China Ltd.